This came up in a recent conversation. Someone asked why I couldn’t give them a recent peer-reviewed paper that supported the idea of mutation as a driver for evolution. My basic reply is because it’s so basic, everyone knows that is the case. We’re beyond basics now.
The concepts that have been established as the basis for evolution (and all the other sciences) have been established, in some cases, for hundreds of years. We don’t have to, and shouldn’t have to, state basic principles every single time we make a statement.
If I say that I pushed a 1 kilo box 1 meter, then I did 1 Joule of work. In my statement, I should have to (and no one expects me to) derive the equation that Work = Force * distance and show how work is measured in Joules, which is the same as kinetic energy, and that Force is a Newton-meter, etc. etc. etc.
Those are all basic facts that shouldn’t even have to be discussed. Anyone who questions those sorts of things doesn’t have the requisite knowledge to be involved in a discussion about those topics. That’s not to say that they can’t learn about those topics and then become a valuable contributor. It’s whether they are willing to.
Similarly, the fundamental concepts of evolution are so well established that we don’t talk about them, except in high school biology and freshman college biology. There’s so much supporting evidence, that they are facts. Natural selection, mutation, adaptation, changes to morphology and physiology caused by mutation, etc. etc. etc.
The creationists are tens to hundreds of years behind the curve.
The same is true for creationism. There are some fairly fundamental concepts that are so common and well understood to people in these discussion that they don’t need to be explained. People who don’t understand these concepts haven’t been paying attention and really should learn about what’s going on prior to jamming their foot in their mouth… and that applies to all of the things I mentioned.
I can’t tell you how many times a creationist has said, “evolution can’t do x” and I send them a link to a 20 year-old peer reviewed research paper that shows them that evolution can do it, does do it, and that information has been known for a long bloody time.
And that is why creationism harms children. By teaching them that it’s pointless to learn, to think, to critically examine, to research… creationism turns otherwise intelligent people into idiots that will always be on the losing side of any argument about science.
It doesn’t matter if one is a world renowned scientist or engineer, unless one applies learning, thinking, critical examination, and research to everything one attempts to get involved with, then one runs the risk of looking like a fool. Even Nobel prize winners can say stupid things about topics they aren’t familiar with (and yes, it has happened).
Yet, creationists insist that lawyers, hydraulic engineers, mathematicians, theologians, and computer programmers know more about biology than than biologists. It’s not an appeal to authority to suggest that someone who has studied a field for most of their life knows more about said field than someone in a different field. And it doesn’t matter anyway, both statements should be examined.
The people at various forums have studied creationists for decades, some almost half a century. They have been researching creationism since before some of the current creationists were born (I’m looking at you Kirk Cameron). They have consistently found certain things. Things like creationists will lie about what someone said in order to manufacture support for the creationist viewpoint. Creationists tend to be engineers rather than biological scientists. The vast majority of creationists do not understand even high school biology concepts (or chemistry or physics for that matter).
These things are not assumptions. They are not cherry picking of data. They are conclusions drawn over decades of watching creationists. If creationists don’t like the conclusions, then the creationists should make an effort to change how they act and build the trust again.
Of course, that means abandoning 2000 year-old beliefs and joining the real world.
I would like to add that I’m not saying the majority of engineers, mathematicians, etc are creationists. I said that the majority of creationists are engineers, mathematicians, etc. There are two people that I’m aware of with degrees in biology who are ‘creationists’. The first is Michael Behe, who a) is barely a creationist and b) hasn’t published useful work in over a decade. The other is Jonathan Wells who specifically got a degree in biochemistry in order to disprove evolution (which he hasn’t done yet).