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ETpro's avatar

Evolution vs. creationism. What's wrong with this picture?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) August 27th, 2012

This video is from creationists who are using the “science” of a jar of peanut butter to “prove” evolution and abiogenesis are impossible. What’s wrong with the picture they paint? Notice any holes in their argument, or are they right?

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28 Answers

tom_g's avatar

This is an old, but good for a laugh (along with the banana). However, I have feeling that I’m laughing at the disabled when viewing this. Unless there is some evidence that his peanut butter “trick” is catching on – or is considered somewhat credible by a large amount of people, I think this might be like making fun of a head trauma patient.

Note: I know the US is full of people who don’t have a basic understanding of science, but even this seems a bit out there for them.

Judi's avatar

It makes me sad when they try to fit God in their box. As most of you know, I am a Christian, but I think God uses evolution. When you read the Bible, it’s important to consider the audience it was written for while you are trying to figure out how it applies to you.
I hate this “i’m right and you’re wrong” approach to evangelism. The only people Jesus used that method on were the religious elite of his time.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Judi And even then he tripped them up on their own words “pride goeth before a fall” style.

anatidaephobiac's avatar

Copied and pasted from

Critics of the argument have pointed out that sealed jars of peanut butter are not, generally speaking, multimillion-year-old volcanic environments rich in ammonia and methane, being bombarded by high energy cosmic rays. They also point out that the argument ignores the fact that the probability of life forming on Earth through abiogenesis was, most likely, incredibly low, and early earth conditions were conducive to the formation of life. Even assuming that a peanut butter jar was a valid example of an environment conducive to spontaneous abiogenesis, the “millions of experiments performed every day” pale in comparison to the trillions performed each day over millions of years of the Earth’s history. In addition, no reasonable scientist is expecting a fully evolved peanut butter monster to jump out of the jar. Any life that would be created, however unlikely, would be microscopic in size and very basic life forms indeed, simpler than bacteria (probably no more than a few strings of organized chemicals replicating themselves), and would probably die almost instantly due to the presence of preservatives in the peanut butter (that is, of course, what those chemicals are there for!). It would certainly not be the case that fully formed ants will walk out of the opened jar as is hinted at by Missler’s video sequence.

In fact, even taken on its own terms this argument fails, since microscopic life forms would be invisible to the casual observer and if life did arise in one of these “millions of experiments performed every day”, it would pass without notice. So the number of “experiments” performed with peanut butter jars is really a nonissue.

Aside from all that, the fact that abiogenesis has not yet been observed to occur in jars of peanut butter is immaterial to the theory of evolution, which specifically describes what happens after life formed. If the peanut butter argument says anything about abiogenesis, it is that the process is not a simple or a quick one, which pretty much all biologists can happily agree on anyway.

Also, to be honest, it’s just plain silly. Someone finding ants crawling out of a peanut butter jar would most likely lead to a lawsuit against the manufacturer, not a paper in Science or Nature on abiogenesis. Such lawsuits for finding bugs in food aren’t that uncommon, so it’s not easy to say that such an event hasn’t occurred in any case.

So, the entire argument is bunk, plain stupid and impossible to prove, but when did that ever stop a creationist?

ragingloli's avatar

What is wrong? They have no understanding whatsoever of Evolution and its mechanisms or the different competing theories of Abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is not a singular event, but a gradual development from life to non life, without there being any kind of sharp dividing line.
So instead they bring up their straw man, which is pretty much nothing more than a thinly veiled ‘spontaneous generation’, where mice suddenly pop into existence from grain, and mosquitos from mud.

digitalimpression's avatar

Obviously their argument is incredibly illogical and poorly constructed (and this is coming from a Christian). I generally ignore this sort of rubbish just the same as I ignore Richard Dawkins’ book for young adults which encourages them to detest God (among other things).

LuckyGuy's avatar

So sad…. Are there really people that don’t see how silly that is?
But then again there are people who believe that jar of peanut butter was created by their diety just for them “He” even created it with the tamper proof vacuum seal on top.
Again…. so sad…

flutherother's avatar

How does he know that God didn’t create life in that jar of peanut butter?

LuckyGuy's avatar

True story… A couple of hours ago I had the urge for a snack and figured a spoonful of peanut butter would be perfect. It was. It took me until just now to realize why!!!

“He” acts in strange ways ;-)

anatidaephobiac's avatar

@LuckyGuy No peanut butter monster?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Ahhhh, the total misunderstanding of the basic Laws of Physics. I was laughing the whole time.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Their premise is flawed for a very obvious reason, that being that it was thought up by someone who is not actually born yet.

You can clearly tell that this is the idea of someone who has not been conceived or born yet, because if they had been alive for more than a second they would have realized just how stupid their argument is.

It is the equivalent of saying: god can do anything, therefore the fact that no packs of soil or ribs have ever turned in to people, means that god is make believe.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Plus, how did God come to exist? If He was the first being, where did He come from?

FutureMemory's avatar

He created himself, I guess?

jerv's avatar

@Mr_Paradox That is one of the great philosophical questions of all time, and has yet to be answered to the satisfaction of non-believers. Most believers side-step it by claiming God is the Alpha and the Omega, needs no cause because He is cause, and generally do-si-do around the issue, but that isn’t really an answer that stands up to scrutiny.

josie's avatar

Hoyle’s Fallacy

ETpro's avatar

@tom_g I shared it for the giggles.

@Judi Excellent observation. It God could create life out of dust, or woman from a man’s rib; why could God not decide to have ants come marching out of a jar of peanut butter?

@SavoirFaire Just so.

@anatidaephobiac Welcome to Fluther. This is the first time we’ve crossed paths, and based on the excellence of your answer, I hope we cross paths often. Do not worry. I am not a duck!

And I love the closing thought that with all the lawsuits about bugs found in food containers, how are we to rule out that a fully formed insect didn’t just poof into existence inside the jar and die from lack of oxygen in its vacuum sealed environment? Though I would not recommend that as a defense for a food packager.

@ragingloli That’s exactly where they are going with their argument. They are clearly demonstrating that they are sure they are right while also being utterly unaware of the substance of the position they are arguing against.

@digitalimpression Thanks for your answer. I completely agree regarding your analysis of the argument presented in the video in question. I’m not sure which Dawkins book you are speaking of, but I’ve never heard Dawkins encourage anyone to detest God. How can you even begin to detest a being you do not believe exists. I think his concern is with how those who did believe in God used their belief to justify unspeakable acts of cruelty by claiming that God (who Dawkins believes man invented) “told” them to bash the babies heads on the stones, etc, etc.

@LuckyGuy Clearly there are, because I have had people advance this exact argument, and not just on an isolated occasion.

@flutherother I can only conclude that Missler thinks that a pile of dust or a removed rib is easy, but peanut butter is an environment even an omnipotent God cannot create life in. Why would this be so? I’ll answer that when I respond to @Mr_Paradox‘s extension of Chuck Missler’s original Theory of Peanut Butter.

@LuckyGuy No wonder they call you Lucky Guy. He inspired you to eat the very thing life cannot exist in.

@poisonedantidote That’s harsh. Accurate, but harsh. :-)

@Mr_Paradox The obvious answer to that is that God poofed into existence inside a jar of peanut butter. I defy you to prove I am wrong.

@FutureMemory No, the creator of the peanut butter created Him. Who knew George Washington Carver was and is, and is forever more—the creator of the creator?

@jerv Neither does my Theory of Peanut Butter. But it is every bit as solid and as unfalsifiable as current creation myths.

@josie Indeed. But Fred Hoyle at least had a minimal grasp of science and probability. He was just clueless when it came to the actual theory of evolution and our understanding of abiogenesis, such as it is.

Paradox25's avatar

His arguments have the usual logical fallacies that many creationists resort to. These people have no interest in science whatsoever, but are more interested in confirming their religion to be the only true one. Just because we can’t prove how X could have done something, it doesn’t mean that choice A is the answer over choice B without evidence to back that claim up either. Actually this guy’s arguments have even more fallacies than those of the likes of Lane and Ross. I’ve brought this point up before, that we can’t be experts or knowledgable in all subject areas, and the theory of evolution is a complicated one to the nonscientist, layman, or someone without great knowledge about the topic at least, so religionists like himself will cling to confirmation bias.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 Yes, the video is a textbook example of confirmation bias.

Paradox25's avatar

There are all types of intelligent design proponents out there, but unlike this guy not all of them have religious motivations behind them. There are many within the intelligent design camp that would find this guy’s ‘arguments’ to be erroneous on a few fronts. I’m also sure that many nontheist scientists would find anything associated with intelligent design to be erroneous in itself, but that is for another discussion.

tom_g's avatar

@Paradox25: “There are all types of intelligent design proponents out there, but unlike this guy not all of them have religious motivations behind them.”

There are “intelligent design” proponents that are not religiously motivated? What is the motivation? It certainly isn’t anything related to science.

gasman's avatar

The whole thing reeks of willful ignorance. Abiogenesis has nothing to do with Darwinian evolution, so right off the bat he (the guy in the video) gets it wrong. Evolution is concerned with how life, once established, gave rise to the diversity of species we see today. Abiogenesis is a separate question.

It continues to astound me how utterly incapable the biblical literalists are of imagining geologic time periods of millions or billions of years, i.e., “deep time.” Not that it’s easy for any of us to comprehend many orders of magnitude longer than a human lifetime, but at least I can picture it intellectually. The young-earth creationist contention that the Earth is 6000 years old underestimates the actual value by a factor of a million or so. Like estimating the length of a football field to be the width of a human hair. Can hardly get more wrong than that!

That this gets perpetuated to each new generation of U.S. school children is a morally irresponsible crime against humanity.

digitalimpression's avatar

@ETpro The book is called “The Magic of Reality: How we really know what’s true”. Inside its pages there is actually some decent content.. unfortunately he threw in a few not-so-cleverly disguised jabs at believers. “Detest” was not the right choice of words.. but it is the word that immediately came to mind when I thought of the manipulative, worm-like text in parts of this book.

ETpro's avatar

@digitalimpression I haven’t read it, so I am in no position to take up that argument. Is it worth reading?

Pazza's avatar

I think the guy in the video, and the guy who made the peanut butter in the jar should take 2 DMT and call me in the morning.

And the two guys in the banana video (that still makes me giggle.)

My own opinion is that the whole evolution v’s creation is a non argument, as anatidaephobiac pointed out, evolution doesn’t explain how life began, it just points out the mechanism of how something that already existed evolved/adapted over time. Plus most of the dawkins style debates (I hate that extremist!) argue around the existance or non existance of God, and that this God or non God, is a human like sociopath. Neither side ever offers a broad spectrum of ideas of what god might be.

In the end, does it really matter, sooner or later we’ll be dead, and find out either way.
In the grand cosmic scale of things, its not really that long to wait!

An interesting video:
Irreducible complexity has not been yet been disproved.

I also find it funny how some people use science to try and make people who believe in a god (whatever that may be) look stupid, or somehow mental, when these same people look to science for an answer. As far as I am aware, science can only explain 5% of what makes up the universe, and can’t even explain what this 5% is made of. The other 95%, well, that’s just stuff?........ I mean its stuff that interacts with the other 5% stuff….... BUT THERE’S NO GOD IN THERE!

anatidaephobiac's avatar

I feel i need to clarify that the post copied from was copied in it’s entirety. It is likely to have been written by more than one person which may explain the misunderstanding. I would love to be able to claim credit for any part of it and believe it is indeed a great answer, just not my answer. My mind is much too immature for something that well written. The image i am giggling about involving Darwin’s moth battling it out with fallacy banana, destroying Tokyo Godzilla style, might go some way towards portraying a realistic representation – if i could share it adequately.

ragingloli's avatar

An interesting video:
Irreducible complexity has not been yet been disproved.
Yes it has:

Pazza's avatar

Agree with the gene duplication, but (as far as I am aware) not all of the proteins in the motor have other functions, and removing one part of the motor renders it unusable.

Also when you look deeper into how the genes are duplicated you find that to produce the gene, the code needs to be written into the DNA, to sequence the gene you need a DNA reader who’s code is also written into the DNA, and the code for the little machine that folds the newly created protein into its specific shape also needs to be written into the DNA code creating an apparent chicken and egg paradox.
(don’t know if I making full sense there?)

Irreducible complexity definition:
A system that loses its function if any one part is removed
I don’t see how that definition is false or disproved?
Removing any one part of the motor renders it useless as a method of propulsion?
If you want to split hairs and say, yes but that doesn’t prove a designer, fair enough.
But it doesn’t disprove it, so I think it should still be on the table as a plausible explanation.

I found this guy really interesting:

Also, I got this video from the Jehovah witnesses that come knock on my door trying to save me. Interestingly, the video called ‘where does the evidence lead’ has been taken from another video I watched, which I cant find right now, but I’m pretty sure some of the content was removed. The sort of stuff that says you don’t really need religion to explain life.

So anywhoo, until science can show me how this chicken and egg paradox can be reconciled, or how the first single cell came into being, which by all accounts is arguably more complex than the body as a whole, my mind will remain open to both possibilities.

“with explanation lacking, if your not willing to accept the possibility that an individuals view may be right, then your mind is closed and your being willfully ignorant”

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