The Creation? It is beyond belief
By Simon Perry
If you need an organisation that appears to be dedicated to the spreading of ignorance then look no further than Answers in Genesis, whose UK offices are in Leicester.
Indoctrinate your children with their teaching materials and you'll be able to eliminate vast swathes of knowledge in geology, biology, astronomy, physics and chemistry.
Hundreds of years of scientific discovery can be eliminated from your child's brain with just a couple of their easy-to-read books or DVDs.
Their "educational" material states humans were around at the same time as dinosaurs (they died out more than 60 million years before we were around), and a claim that the Earth is just 6,000 years old (it's actually about 4.5 billion years old).
It's pretty easy to imagine ways that we could prove the theory of evolution isn't true. Just find one fossil – yes, just one, that is clearly out of sequence with evolution.
By dating the rocks in which the fossils are found, scientists have built up a clear picture of the tree of life evolving.
If you can dig up a fossil of some human remains that predate the evolution of primates, you've proven humans couldn't have evolved.
Dig up a primate that predates the evolution of mammals and you've shown that primates could not have evolved.
Find, as J B S Haldane put it, a rabbit in the Precambrian period. Just one will do.
Yet millions of fossils are dug up every year and they all sit perfectly within the tree of evolution.
Nothing excites a scientist more than proving an established theory wrong, and finding that one fossil would likely win the scientist a Nobel Prize.
Yet in the 150 years since Darwin published his theory of evolution, nobody has found one.
It's equally easy to disprove creationism; the favoured idea of Answers in Genesis that we were all made by a perfect, benevolent, omnipotent and intelligent god in our present form about 6,000 years ago.
To disprove this idea, all you need to do is to find one feature of an animal – yes, just one, that, if designed, could only have been designed by a complete idiot.
Here we have thousands of examples. One of my favourite is the recurrent laryngeal nerve.
This is the nerve that connects the brain to the voice box, giving creationists the power to spread their nonsense verbally.
Fish have the same nerve. The fourth vagus nerve in sharks connects the brain to the gills via a direct route.
But, as fish evolved into land mammals, the nerve took on a different purpose, connecting the brain to the voice box.
As we evolved necks, both ends of the nerve needed to be at the top of the neck.
Yet due to its evolutionary roots, the nerve passes down to our heart and back.
In humans, this is a daft enough route to take. But in a giraffe, it is about two unnecessary metres long. If this is design, it is anything but intelligent.
While the theory of evolution was proven conclusively long before Watson and Crick discovered DNA in 1953, this discovery, together with the technology to sequence it, has provided us with huge amounts of further evidence.
The way that DNA copies itself and passes itself on to the next generation perfectly fits our previous understanding of how descent with modification worked.
And when we look at the DNA of different animals, we can see exactly how they fit into the evolutionary tree of life by looking at which genes are the same, and different, from their relatives.
It's often assumed that creationist ideas go only against the theory of evolution, a small area of science, but this is simply not true.
Evolutionary theory is not a small area – it is the underpinning theory of all biology. None of biology makes sense without it and if creationism was true we'd need to go back to the drawing board.
It undermines our knowledge of physics, too. Our understanding of radioactive decay, fundamental in dating fossils, would need to be wrong if the Earth was just 6,000 years old.
Big Bang theory would be out of the window, as would our understanding of how the Solar System was formed.
There would be nothing left of geology, since 99% of geological changes occurred more than 6,000 years ago.
On the Answers in Genesis website, I found an article which absurdly argued that The Grand Canyon was caused not by river erosion but by the receding waters of Noah's biblical flood.
It seems to me this is ignorance on a truly epic scale.
One way Answers in Genesis appear to try to convince their followers is by arguing that they are doing science too.
The website includes an article which argues that the conclusions drawn by creationists vary from those drawn by "Darwinists" only because the two are starting from different presuppositions.
AiG's presupposition is that God's word, from the Bible, is the literal truth.
It is claimed that science, too, has presuppositions and that one of Darwin's presuppositions was his rejection of the Bible.
I think this view is as much nonsense as the Bible itself.
While Darwin's now proven theory of evolution conclusively shows the Genesis chapters of the Bible to be untrue, their falsity wasn't Darwin's starting point for developing the theory.
The Bible wasn't combed for information to be rejected, it was simply not taken into account.
Not allowing unsupported presuppositions or the acceptance of the word of any person or book is a fundamental aspect of science.
Indeed, the motto of the Royal Society, "Nullius in Verba", translates as "Take nobody's word for it".
By breaking this fundamental rule, Answers in Genesis show their methods to be nothing but pseudo-science.
I attended a talk given by Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, when he came to Oadby in 2008.
In his speech, the motivation behind his campaigning became clear. He put forward the view that if the theory of evolution was true then there was no Adam and Eve.
With no Adam and Eve, there can be no original sin.
And with no original sin, there was simply no point in sacrificing Christ.
He seems to believe that if evolution is true then the Christian story makes no sense and the very foundations of Christian faith crumble.
On this final point, I agree.
The views expressed in this column are the author's and are not necessarily the views of the Leicester Mercury.