Ovulation vs. Cretinism

Excerpt from Georgia Skeptic Electronic Newsletter, Fall 1993

Author Unknown

Two different theories exist concerning the origin of children: the theory of sexual reproduction and the theory of the stork. Many people believe in the theory of sexual reproduction because they have been taught this theory at school. In reality, however, many of the world's leading scientists are in favour of the theory of the stork. If the theory of sexual reproduction is taught in schools, it must only be taught as a theory and not as the truth. Alternative theories, such as the theory of the stork, must also be taught. Evidence supporting the theory of the stork include the following:

1. It is a scientifically established fact that the stork does exist. This can be confirmed by every ornithologist.

2. The alleged human fetal development contains several features that the theory of sexual reproduction is unable to explain.

3. The theory of sexual reproduction implies that a child is approximately nine months old at birth. This is an absurd claim, since everyone knows that a newborn child is newborn.

4. According to the theory of sexual reproduction, children are a result of sexual intercourse. There are, however, many well-documented cases where sexual intercourse has not led to the birth of a child.

5. Statistical studies in the Netherlands have indicated a positive correlation between the birth rate and the number of storks. Both are declining.

6. The theory of the stork can be investigated by rigorous scientific methods. The only assumption involved is that children are delivered by the stork.

Each of the six absurd points made above represents a separate, and similarly faulty, tactic used by creationists (aka "Intelligent Design" proponents) to attack the scientific theory of evolution. Some of these tactics are elaborated on here.

The Stork "theory"

If you liked the above, you are sure to enjoy the following...

A Creationist Murder Mystery

by David Kornreich
Cornell University
November 1996

Let's say that you're entering a strange room. As you open the door, you immediately see a person lying face down in a pool of his own blood. Blood is also splattered all over the room, the man is not breathing and has no pulse, and there are bloody footprints leading into and out of the room. At this stage, you may formulate a scientific theory that a murder had occurred in this room. After all, there is overwhelming evidence that a murder occurred. More difficult, however, is figuring out exactly how the murder took place. In fact, unless you're an expert in forensic science, chances are you will probably be stumped for quite a while. This scenario is analogous to the current state of research in various branches of science which Creationists like to call "evolutionism." It is, well, bloody well clear that life evolved, for instance, but the exact mechanism and sequence of events are still being explored.

Now, imagine that you're the inspector in charge of solving the murder I've just described. Imagine further that you are in a country where the predominant religion claims that murder is physically impossible. You have examined the evidence available, and decided that the murder was committed around midnight with a sharp knife is such-and-such a fashion, that there was a struggle, etc. Basically, you have now formulated a fairly detailed but not necessarily complete theory of exactly what happened in that room. In comes a rather religious person who says, "hmm. Yes, well, the body does have some knife wounds, but you still haven't explained these tiny, itty bitty scratches on the soles of the feet. Clearly, your theory does not stand up to the evidence. Therefore, since your theory has problems explaining all of the evidence, a murder cannot have taken place here." This is the situation that scientists find themselves in when confronted with creationists. Yes, there are gaps in and problems with scientific theories. That is, after all, why there are still scientists. The fact that theories are incomplete, however, doesn't mean that they don't embody the overwhelming majority of the evidence. They need modification from time to time to fit the facts, but that doesn't mean that they aren't excellent predictors as they stand today.

You should be able to see from the above example that there is often a very big difference scientifically between determining that something has happened and the mechanisms behind it. For instance, one can directly observe stellar formation in other parts of the galaxy going on right now, so we know for a fact that this process occurs. The physical mechanisms behind that formation, however, prove to be more tricky to understand, and at the present moment we still don't have a completely satisfactory theory of star formation. In other words, our theories have a hard time predicting the details of the phenomena that we observe in the sky, just like the police inspector will never be able to tell you precisely every detail of the struggle. Creationists interpret such statements as admissions that stellar birth never happens at all, because our theories aren't yet completely satisfactory. But the problem is with the theory, not the fact, since obviously stellar birth does occur. It's as if the inspector reports his findings that a murder took place, but admits that he still can't explain a single bruise on the victim's leg by saying, "I am still not completely satisfied with this theory," only to be told that, "See, a murder couldn't possibly have happened. Even you admit that you can't explain everything with your 'murder' theory."

Soon, the religious busybodies begin to lie and distort the evidence as found by the inspector or the scientist to lure others into believing in their version of things, even if they have no real evidence that the death was of natural causes.

"There wasn't any blood on the walls," they begin to say.

"None of the wounds were ever proven to be knife wounds!"

"If it was a murder, there should only be footprints leaving the room, not footprints entering it!" Never mind that the poor inspector has already said that the murderer must have left and come back a couple of times.

Now, the inspector realizes that he will probably never know every detail about what happened during the murder, but he also knows that he understands the broad strokes (and even most of the details) of the events of the fateful night. Nevertheless, he is told right and left by religious busybodies that since he can't explain everything, that his entire theory must be incorrect.

"Natural causes."

"It was God's will."

"Sometimes people just explode," they say.

Naturally, the inspector becomes impatient, surly, and begins spending his time berating the religious nutcases instead of solving murders. This is basically the situation a lot of us scientists feel we are in, so we solve the problem by not addressing the PR issue at all. Of course, then the religious nutcases (who know how important PR can be) declare, "See! They can't answer our objections, so they must be wrong!"