Who’s Context Is It Anyway?

Ever go to the supermarket (or your local Target, Wal-Mart, etc) and skim those dumb, almost-certainly-lying tabloids?  The paparazzi always takes those celebrity quotes out of context, and it gets kind of annoying, right?  Well, news flash, more than once, creationists have done the same thing: taking a quote out of context just to prove their point.  In this article, I will give you two examples of times when creationists have taken evolution quotes and articles out of context.

Recently, I was flipping through an article on the popular creation website Answers In Genesis, led by the dedicated but misled Ken Ham, and found something of great interest to me.  Now, to enforce the idea that dinosaurs and man lived together (which in turn enforces the Garden of Eden), creationists sometimes point to dragon legends.  Of course, there’s lots of evidence against that idea, but this article is all about an article in the popular science magazine, Popular Science.  The article answers a question: “If evolution had taken a different turn, could dragons have existed?”  Now, I’m not going to say that they invented an article, because that was one of the highlights of my short stint getting issues of that magazine.  But they DO take the article out of context.

The AIG article says that the magazine points to animals that have dragon-like features, but they pretty much ignore the rest, stating that the publication shows obvious connections to dragons in nature, which in turn helps the creationism fight.  But this entire article is taken out of context, not just a single quote.  The PS article also points out several problems with a real-life dragon, the first and foremost being that whenever nature produces a six-legged vertebrae, it inevitably dies out.  And since most depictions of dragons show the mighty beasts as having four legs and a set of wings (which count as limbs), there’s a big problem there.

Another time when creationists have taken stuff out of context has to do with Charles Darwin himself.  Darwin stated that any feature of life as we know it that doesn’t have an evolutionary explanation could help bring down his theory.  Naturally, people pointed to the eye.  Darwin responded in a quote that said, basically, that he found the evolution of the highly complex eye “absurd”.  And lo, a creationist argument.

But the quote was taken out of context, because Charles then listed a reasonable evolutionary pathway for the eye, pointing to the varying complexities of that ocular wonder in nature, from primitive insect light-dark sensors, to the razor-sharp vision found in modern birds of prey.  But of course, the creationists who argue that don’t bother to point it out, mostly because they have so few valid arguments, so they don’t want to lose another one to the power of reason.


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