Baby Lucy Makes National Geographic Evolution Cover
No regime change is evident at National Geographic since Bill Allen left (see 02/15/2005). The Nov. 2006 is vintage NG with alleged primitive human ancestors on the cover, this time “Baby Lucy” (see 09/20/2006, 10/02/2006). Despite many passionate letters to the editor after their in-your-face Darwinist two years ago (see “Was Darwin Wrong?” 10/24/2004), this issue under new editor Chris Johns shows no change of heart or direction.
The main article dismisses any alternatives to macroevolution in one paragraph, only to promote Darwinian evolution as the only scientific answer to the origin of life, including human life. The dismissal appeals to majority rule, enthusiasm, and future discoveries.
But nearly 150 years after Darwin first brought this elegant idea to the world’s attention when he published The Origin of Species, the evolution of complex structures can still be hard to accept. Most of us can envision natural selection tweaking a simple trait—making an animal furrier, for example, or its neck longer. Yet it’s harder to picture evolution producing a new complex organ, complete with all its precisely interlocking parts. Creationists claim that life is so complex that it could not have evolved. They often cite the virtuoso engineering of the bacterial tail, which resembles a tiny electric motor spinning a shaft, to argue that such complexity must be the direct product of “intelligent design” by a superior being.
The vast majority of biologists do not share this belief. Studying how complex structures came to be is one of the most exciting frontiers in evolutionary biology, with clues coming at remarkable speed.
The issue contains a long article on evolution, “A Fin Is a Limb Is a Wing: How Evolution Fashioned Its Masterworks,” by Carl Zimmer. It discusses embryology, eyes, fruit flies, feathers, homologous limbs and other standard Darwinist fare, ending with “Evolution, ruthless and practical, is equally capable of building the most wonderful structures and tossing them aside when they’re no longer needed.” Like people?
Zimmer did return to the flagellum at the end of his article, to deal with “doubters of evolution” one more time. He promoted an evolutionary explanation by Mark Pallen (U. of Birmingham) that relies on co-option of the Type III Secretion System – but did not cite any intelligent-design sources familiar with this kind of explanation to refute it. He did, though, grant one tiny concession: “Whether or not that’s the full story, there is plenty of other evidence that natural selection has been at work on the flagellum.”
The issue ends with a short article on the Dikika skeleton. For that fossil to make this publication in such a short time after its announcement, it must have been “Hold the presses!” day at NG headquarters in late September. The senior editor’s article is accompanied by copious artwork and illustrations. A smiling ape-face squeals, “Found: Earliest Child – 3.3-million-year old bones discovered,” and inside, the 120-point bold all-caps title reads, “Meet the Dikika baby: a three-year-old from the dawn of humanity. Her discovery holds clues to the origin of childhood.” Despite the ongoing controversy over the meaning of this skeleton, the article confidently ends, “The Dikika baby”s biography is short, but the evolutionary steps she embodied have had profound and enduring effects. Although bipedalism and big brains carried a high cost, particularly for the mothers of our lineage, these traits ultimately combined to produce smarter babies who would eventually be able to master technologies, build civilizations, and, yes, explore their own origins.”
Incidentally, the original Lucy fossil is going on tour in America, according to Associated Press. The tour is generating controversy.
In case you didn’t notice, National Geographic’s understanding of Darwinism and the many philosophical and evidential arguments against it is not much above a high school freshman level. There are so many problems in their presentation, and so much pure propaganda the way it is presented, the editors ought to be ashamed of themselves. For instance, they still appeal to Haeckel’s embryo argument—not with Haeckel’s original forged drawings, but with newer ones that do not look at all alike. But the caption says, “The early embryos of three different vertebrates—a fish, a chicken, and a human—look much the same.” Any reader is going to look at the drawings and say, “Huh?”
Where have the editors been? Don’t they read the literature against Darwinism? Don’t they know how to deal at a more scholarly level with problems that even biologists inside the Darwin Party acknowledge? In their simplistic minds, Hox genes under natural selection can create anything and everything, even “Masterworks” of engineering. They chide creationists for finding it “hard to accept” the evolution of complex structures. This is classic question begging. Who says it’s right to accept a flawed theory, full of holes and wishful thinking with the whitewash of artwork substituting for the brick and mortar of evidence?
You may have noticed the similarity of Carl Zimmer’s title “A fin is a limb is a wing” with the statement by Ingrid Newkirk of PETA (see source), “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” No they aren’t, and no he isn’t. Notice how word choice is operative in the propaganda both PETA and NG employ: a human boy is a rat when they want to dispose of a fetus, but an extinct ape’s juvenile offspring is a “baby” when they want to promulgate evolutionary philosophy. Connect the dots between the philosophies of both of these dehumanizing, desensitizing philosophies. If you get a picture you don’t like, it’s time to write more letters to the editor.
Dr. Brad Harrub has investigated the “Lucy’s Baby” evidence on Apologetics Press.