Thursday, October 30, 2008

Your Brain on Creationism

I'm officially on vacation for the rest of the week, so I'm going to take a break from political writing and post something that's just bizarre.

I first saw it on Neurologica. Apparently, a couple of creationists have a unique "fossil" that they believe is a really old (but younger than 5,000 years old of course) "petrified human brain." They've even made a website about it packed with photos of smiling rubber-glove-wearing (creationist) "authorities" holding the brain and saying things like "It is scientifically impossible for this to not be a brain."

Since I am no expert in brain anatomy, I can't say with any certainty whether this rock-brain fossil is a real human brain or not. Although this website includes x-ray photos of the thing, these pictures enlighten me no more than when doctors have pointed out "shadows" and "wrinkles" on x-rays in my own life. Outwardly, I nod as if I "see" what they see, but secretly I know that it's all really a big shadowy-Rorschach mess.

Of the rock-brain, neurologist Steven Novella, of Neurologica says:

"This is just a lumpy rock that happens to have a cleavage roughly down the middle, without anything that resembles a brain. The human brain doesn’t just have squiggles (gyri), it has a very specific pattern of gyri that can be identified and named and are organized into different lobes.... No real anatomy is apparent. The rock shows no specific anatomical features of a brain, nor any features that would confirm it is a fossil of any kind. It’s a rock."

It is Dr. Novella's job to be skeptical. Possessing no hidden agenda and armed with credentials, specialized knowledge, and expertise, I find his word to be credible.

As creationists tend to generally be anti-science, I wondered what the purpose of this website was. Specifically, what does someone who believes in the creationist ideology have to gain by telling people that this rock-brain thingy is a petrified human brain? After perusing this website I was able to deduce what the point of all it was. In a nutshell, the argument is that:

(a) It is the author's opinion that Noah's flood petrified things very quickly.

(b) Yet, mainstream science tells us that things take millions of years to petrify.

(c) This "brain" petrified very rapidly.

(d) Therefore, mainstream science is "wrong" and creationism is right.

Or something. The argument is not exactly articulated in any comprehensible fashion.

Am I weird for thinking this is weird? Do other people think this is strange, funny, and/or legitimate?

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