In mid-1994, I realized that despite fairly wide popular interest in human origins, the talk.origins archive contained almost no information on the topic. The archive also lacked responses to creationist arguments about human evolution, a serious omission considering the importance of human evolution in the creationism/evolution debate. Although there are quite a few books on human evolution written for the general public, these generally mention only a few of the major fossils, scattered throughout the book and often incompletely described. I felt there was a need for a concise list of the most important hominid fossils.
Compiling such a list was harder than it sounds. Although there were many popular books on human evolution, none of them contained details of most of the important fossils, so it was necessary to use many sources. (The new book From Lucy to language (Johanson and Edgar, 1996) largely solves this problem, and also contains a gallery of superb photos of many important fossils.)
The first version of these pages was placed in the talk.origins archive in November 1994, and has grown steadily in size and completeness since then. It is, I believe, the most comprehensive treatment of creationism and human evolution to be found on or off the web, and I am committed to keeping it that way.
As a number of people have pointed out to me, creationists are unlikely to change their mind no matter what the evidence is, or how often they are refuted. However, there are plenty of neutral bystanders who can be persuaded if they are shown how flawed creation "science" is.
Why is creationism more of a threat than other equally silly pseudosciences such as astrology? The difference is that astrologers aren't engaged in a highly organised and well-funded campaign to have their pseudoscience taught in schools. Ignoring creationism doesn't work and won't make it go away. Of course, creationists won't go away if they are opposed either, but it is possible to prevent them getting their religious beliefs taught as science. Organisations such as the National Center for Science Education have been very effective at this - please consider supporting them!
Jeff Shallit makes the same point very effectively in one of his essays:
"... the creation/evolution debate is not about convincing the creationists. One might as well argue with squid. The debate is about educating the public at large -- the same public whose elected representatives pass laws, select textbooks, set curriculums, and fund research."
If you don't believe me, please note that the leading creationist organization Answers in Genesis agrees with me, and now lists this argument in their Arguments we think creationists should NOT use web page.
The drawing often creates a misleading impression of human evolution as a steady progression from apes to humans. It has always been known that not all the species in that series were human ancestors (for example, the robust australopithecines).
I am a student within the University of Malta and am reading a course in BA. With History of Civilisation. One of my topics is the evolution of man, the stages that he might have gone through and the evidence left thereafter.(sigh) How does someone this stupid get to university?
I would be very grateful if you could help me out and I thank you for your time and interest,
Because the offer is as bogus as a $3 bill, and designed to be unmeetable. It's unclear whether Hovind wants "evidence" or "proof" of evolution. He mentions both, but they're entirely different things. Moreover, Hovind's requirement for proof (showing that there is no other possible definition for the evidence) is ridiculous. I can't think of anything that I could prove to that level of certainty. Hovind is also very coy about how the evidence would be judged. He has claimed that the judging committee is not composed of creationists, but he refuses to say who they are.
A friend of mine was interested in Hovind's offer, and found out from him exactly what would be involved in meeting the "challenge":
I talked to Hovind about his $250,000 offer late this afternoon. He made it quite clear that he would only give up the money if someone could reproduce the Big Bang in a laboratory, produce matter from nothing, or life from non-life.Presumably Hovind also thinks that astronomy isn't a science unless we can create a star in a lab.
I'd be happy to debate with Hovind on human evolution via web pages. There hardly seems much point however, since much of what he says is already refuted in my web site. I have seen Hovind talking about human evolution, and he definitely falls into the more incompetent end of the creationist spectrum. He even believes in the Paluxy footprints, which most of the "respectable" creationists abandoned over a decade ago.
But, interestingly, Hovind refuses to debate on the web, apparently claiming it's a waste of his time. (I would have thought that the potential audience is so large it would be a far more effective use of his time than traipsing all over the USA is.)
The reason for his refusal is probably that Hovind's drive-by-shooting style of debate, consisting of a barrage of unsubstantiated scientific nonsense, glib patter, and corny jokes, wouldn't translate well to the written word. A stand-up debate doesn't permit the time needed to investigate issues in any depth, or to show how utterly worthless and dishonest Hovind's arguments are. Even Answers in Genesis considers Hovind to be something of an embarrassment to the creationist cause.
The question of debating Hovind is now moot in any case, as he is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for tax fraud.
Following are some websites about Hovind's 'offer', his 'scientific' claims, and his sham 'doctorate':
As this is an informational site, I try to avoid the use of advanced html, sticking to tags that virtually all browsers should be able to handle. There are no animations, no Flash material, and no frames (they are a poorly-designed kludge). Graphics files are used only where they are useful, and I try to keep their size down. I keep display details out of the html code, using a style sheet to control the presentation of all html pages in the site.
I edit html files by hand, very occasionally using Perl to make global changes. I use text editors that show me raw html, because many html editors (such as IE's FrontPage or Netscape Composer) do horrible things to carefully formatted html and add all sorts of junk in. I used to use Emacs as my editor, but have recently been using Arachnophilia, a free ('careware') html editor which I can thoroughly recommend.
I use Xenu Link Sleuth to check the validity of internal and external links.
I occasionally use the Web Design Group's HTML Validator to check that my html is valid.
This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.
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