Tag Archives: Karl Giberson

Darwinist Karl Giberson uses photo-shopped image of baby with tail in evolution debate

Evolution News reports.


OK, if there was any doubt that Karl Giberson’s tailed-baby photo is a Photoshop creation, that doubt is now dispelled. I emailed the creator of the image, photographer Larry Dunstan, to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood. Yes, confirmed the helpful and candid Mr. Dunstan, it was created with Photoshop using a photo of a tail-free two-week-old baby. The tail is not genuine. It was generated by a computer, not by, as Giberson thought, a “gene for tails.”

The reader who found the source image on the Internet for me, over at Science Photo Library, works in graphic design and 3D modeling. Says reader Ryan, what made him leery was “the lack of shadow from the tail,” and the “framing and composition,” which don’t match what you’d expect from “a photo intended to document a mutation.”

Right. Casey and I had that same gut reaction, but it’s good to have our response confirmed by professionals — again.

[…]Why do I keep harping on this? Only because human origins is an ultimate question and using human “tails” as evidence for common descent is a mainstay of Darwin defenders.

Theistic evolutionist Dr. Giberson is noted for having criticized and broken with other Evangelical Christians over issues having to do with, according to his characterization, intellectual and scientific integrity. See his book The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.

Is Giberson right to be up on a high horse that way? I’m not a Christian so I don’t have his personal stake in the question. But Giberson, after complaining that my querying his use of this photo was “ad hominem” — which it obviously isn’t — characterizes me (and Casey Luskin) in a way that clearly is ad hominem.

Lest you think I am tricking you about this being used as evidence for evolution, here is Giberson in the Daily Beast reflecting on his debate performance.


I showed pictures of otherwise healthy humans who had been born with webbed feet and tails. I asked the challenging question: “Why does the human genome contain instructions for the production of features we don’t use?” The scientific explanation is that we inherited these instructions from our tailed ancestors but the instructions for producing them have been shut off in our genomes, which is why Shallow Hal is the only person most people know who has a tail. Sometimes the “ignore these genes” message gets lost in fetal development, however, and babies are born with perfectly formed, even functional tails.

Is he right about any of this?

Evolution News explains that he is not:

For now, here’s a crucial fact: even such so-called “tails” aren’t anything like those found in tailed mammals. That is for the simple reason that “true tails” in humans entirely lack vertebrae — or any kind of bone, cartilage, notochord, or spinal cord. As the aforementioned paper in the Journal of Neurosurgery explains:

In all reported cases, the vestigial human tail lacks bone, cartilage, notochord, and spinal cord. It is unique in this feature.2

Other prominent medical research journals agree:

  • A 2013 paper in the Journal of Child Neurology states: “True tails are boneless, midline protrusion usually attached to the skin of the sacrococcygeal region and capable of spontaneous or reflex motion. They consist of normal skin, connective tissue, muscle, vessels, and nerves and are covered by skin. Bone, cartilage, notochord, and spinal cord are lacking.”3
  • A paper from the Journal of Pediatric Surgery states: “The human vestigial tail lacks bone, cartilage, notochord, and spinal cord. It contains a central core of mature fatty tissue divided into small lobules by thin fibrous septa. Small blood vessels and nerve fibers are scattered throughout. Bundles of striated muscle fibers, sometimes degenerated, tend to aggregate in the center.”4
  • An article in the British Journal of Neurosurgery explains: “A true tail in humans is vestigial and never contains vertebrae in contrast to other vertebrate animals.”5
  • Most striking of all, perhaps, are the words of a famous paper on tails in The New England Journal of Medicine: “When the caudal appendage is critically examined, however, it is evident that there are major morphologic differences between the caudal appendage and the tails of other vertebrates. First of all, the caudal appendage does not contain even rudimentary vertebral structures. There are no well-documented cases of caudal appendages containing caudal vertebrae or an increased number of vertebrae in the medical literature, and there is no zoological precedent for a vertebral tail without caudal vertebrae.”6
  • Finally, an article in Human Pathology explains: “In humans a true tail, is vestigial, however, and never contains vertebrae. … Bona-fide cases of human tails containing bone have not been documented.”7

These observations certainly don’t make it sound like humans can have “perfectly formed, even functional tails.” In fact, it’s difficult to argue that any tail could be called “bona fide” if it isn’t “bone-fied.”

Where did Giberson find the image? In the humor magazine “Cracked”. That’s… chutzpah. I wonder if he used Dilbert comics as evidence in his PhD thesis?

Standard Operating Procedure

I think it’s a bad idea to use images from humor magazines as evidence for your point of view, but I think it’s par for the course with Darwinists, who are still using things like Haeckel’s embryos in science textbooks as evidence of evolution.

Who says? One of the top peer-reviewed science journals “Science“:

Using modern techniques, a British researcher has photographed embryos like those pictured in the famous, century-old drawings by Ernst Haeckel–proving that Haeckel’s images were falsified. Haeckel once admitted to his peers that he doctored the drawings, but that confession was forgotten.

Still used in textbooks, though. It’s “fake, but accurate”.

Seven videos from the Biola University conference on God and evolution

I have been weaseling out of my apologetics posting this week, and this is my last chance to get something good up so I can make it onto Brian Auten’s weekly apologetics bonus links at Apologetics 315, the best Christian apologetics site ever.

So I am posting SEVEN video clips from a recent Biola University conference on theistic evolution. (H/T Mysterious Jonathan)

Conference details:

Can you believe in God and Darwinian evolution at the same time? Scientists and scholars have an answer that may surprise the audience as they explore this and related questions at the God & Evolution conference on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

The conference will focus on the conflict between neo-Darwinism and traditional theological views of Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

What is “theistic” evolution, and how consistent is it with traditional theism?

What challenges does Darwin’s theory pose for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews?

Is it “anti-science” to question Darwinian Theory?

These questions and more will be addressed at the one-day conference by Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine, biologist Jonathan Wells, political scientist John West, philosopher Jay Richards, attorney and science writer Casey Luskin and authors David Klinghoffer and Denyse O’Leary.

In the century and a half since Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, Christians, Jews, and other religious believers have grappled with how to make sense of it. Most have understood that Darwin’s theory has profound theological implications, but responses have varied dramatically.

Some believers have rejected it outright; others, including “theistic evolutionists” such as Francis Collins and Karl Giberson, have sought to reconcile Darwin’s theory with their religious beliefs, often at the cost of clarity, orthodoxy, or both. As a result, the whole subject of God and evolution is a source of confusion for many believers.

Join us for this one-day seminar, featuring contributors to the new book, God and Evolution, exploring these issues and offering a wide-ranging critique of those who seek to reconcile materialistic theories such as Darwinism with belief in God.

Here is the playlist for all SEVEN video clips.

Clip 1 of 7: Jay W. Richards: The Central Issues (34 minutes)

Clip 2 of 7: John G. West: Three Big Questions (22 minutes)

Clip 3 of 7: Casey Luskin: Why the New Atheists Won’t Be Appeased (21 minutes)

Clip 4 of 7: Denyse O’Leary: Catholics & Evolution (29 minutes)

Clip 5 of 7: David Klinghoffer: Judaism & Evolution (17 minutes)

Clip 6 of 7: Jonathan Wells: Science and Theistic Evolution (26 minutes)

Clip 7 of 7: Panel Discussion with Marvin Olasky (99 minutes)

So it looks like there are 2 Catholics (Richards, O’Leary), 2 Jews (Luskin, Klinghoffer), 2 Protestants (West, Olasky) and 1 “Other” (Wells) in that list. It’s a diverse group.

William Dembski reviews a new book by two theistic evolutionists

From Patheos, an opening statement by William Dembski. This is the first part of a four-part debate with two scientists of the Biologos group, which advocates for theistic evolution. (And not to be confused with the Biologic Institute, which is supportive of intelligent design).


Throughout their book, Giberson and Collins overconfidently proclaim that Darwinian evolution is a slam-dunk. Thus one reads, “There has been no scientific discovery since Darwin–not one–which has suggested that evolution is not the best explanation for the origin of species” (21-22). No theory is that good. Every theory admits anomalies. Every theory faces disconfirming evidence. Repeatedly readers are informed that mountains of overwhelming evidence support Darwin’s theory and that the authors are “unfamiliar with any premier scientists who reject evolution.” And just so there’s no doubt, in that same paragraph, they reiterate, “There are certainly a few scientists who reject evolution . . . But these are never premier scientists.”

Oh, you reject Darwinian evolution; you can’t be a premier scientist. What counterexample would convince Giberson and Collins to retract such a claim? How about Henry Schaefer’s signature on a “Dissent from Darwin” list? Schaefer heads the computational quantum chemistry lab at the University of Georgia, has published over a thousand peer-reviewed journal articles, and is one of the most widely cited chemists in the world. Then again, Giberson and Collins look askance at this list (according to them, it has too many emeriti professors and not enough biologists). But why engage in such posturing about scientific pecking order in the first place? The issue is not who’s doubting Darwinism, but what are the arguments for and against it and whether they have merit. Giberson and Collins’ constant drumming of mainstream and consensus science is beside the point–science progresses by diverging from the mainstream and by breaking with consensus.

Because Giberson and Collins assert that natural selection is such a powerful mechanism for driving evolution–and one that admits no reasoned dissent–it’s worth recounting here briefly why the intelligent design community is so skeptical of it. It’s not, as theistic evolutionists often suggest, that we have a desperate need to shore up faith and morality and are using ID as our instrument of choice to accomplish that end. Rather, it’s that natural selection is, in essence, a trial and error tinkering mechanism for which all evidence suggests that its power is quite limited. Trial and error works fine when you have something that’s functional and are trying to enhance it or adapt it to a new situation.

But for natural selection, as a trial and error mechanism, to traverse vast swatches of biological function space, we need to see an extended series of small gradual structural changes (under neo-Darwinism, these are genetic mutations leaving effects at the phenotypic level) that continually improve, or at least maintain, function, with evolving functions and evolving structures covarying and reinforcing each other. But we know of no detailed testable (macro-)evolutionary pathways like this in any field, whether in the evolution of living forms or in the evolution of language or in the evolution of technologies. In fact, when we can trace such evolutionary pathways, we find that significant change happens in creative leaps, not via trial and error tinkering.

Everyone who has read Dembski’s opening remarks in this four-part series is raving about the quality of what he’s written. I was hoping to wait for the response before publishing his opening salvo, so we could balance it, but no reply has appeared yet. For me, there is only one issue in the debate about the origin of life: if natural causes can create life from non-life with the time and resources available on the early Earth, then show me the mechanism. That’s all I want to see – the evidence that natural causes can do the creating that the naturalists say that it can do. I don’t want to hear about feelings, possibilities, what God could or couldn’t do, philosophy, what church you attend, your favorite hymn, the way you were raised, your religious experiences, etc. I just want to see you prove that nature can do all the creating that you say it can do.