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Creationist on a Thread: Part I

04/17/12

  01:13:00 am, by Nimble   , 3195 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

Creationist on a Thread: Part I

This article in TechnicianOnline stirred up a lot of controversy. You could follow the Facebook responses to that for days and hardly come to the end of it.

Where I chose to chime in was where someone had rebuffed that original author, a creationist popped up to oppose them, and folks started piling on. The conversation gets rather long, but it's a fascinating study in how just about every creationist argument can get pulled out of the sack in sequence. My favourite bit: agreeing to disagree, then proceeding to get a dig in! Enjoy.

Nicole: Madison, like most creationists, is having a hard time discerning between a fact and a theory. Facts are data we've collected about the world. Theories are how we explain and interpret these facts. She isn't grasping evolution, so let's use another popular example: Gravity. The fact: When dropping Madison Murphy out of a 4 story building, she will fall to the earth. We know that Aristotle, Galileo, Newton and Einstein developed theories of why gravitation occurred. However, Ms. Murphy isn't suspending in midair pending the outcome. This is the same for evolution. The fact: Humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. Whether they did so by Darwin's theory of natural selection, or by some other theory that's yet to be discovered. To claim evolution is only a theory is to ignore the facts. Which is what creationists are exceptionally great at. And, if I may, this is yet another representation of how evolution wasn't properly introduced and taught in this part of the country (as a NCSU grad, and someone born and raised in NC, I can vouch).

Hope (the creationist): Did you write this rebuttal Nicole? Although I completely disagree it is very well written. You make a nice argument although I agree with the original article. I personally believe that evolution will eventually be thrown out completely and some other reason for how we got here besides intelligent design will be taught in schools. The facts are piling up against evolution, not in favor of it. Itis a

Did not finish my thoughts before it cut off on me. Oh well, enough said:)

David: What facts?

Detric: Hope No facts are piling up against evolution. If anything, more discoveries are building a sturdy foundation for it. A common example: the flu is a seasonal product of evolution.

Hope: I believe the gene pool can make changes yes, but not gigantic leaps. It makes sense that over time people may be getting taller and that red heads may disappear completely. However, to say that everything started with nothing and then just kept evolving is nonsensical. I would take far more faith for me to believe in evolution than for me to belive in a Creator.

Steven: Pretty sure there's way more missing in creationalism than evolution. Faith and scribble don't equal fact

Gary: @Hope
Your remark about "a bone here and there" tells me you have never studied paleontology. I was the Director of a museum once. It was a small museum, and we had thousands of fossils in storage because there was no room to display them. And these were not just "a bone here and there," but hundreds of nearly complete animals.

You might wonder why creationists have been claiming "evolution is dead," or "geology is dead" for nearly two centuries. It is called fantasy.
http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/demise.html

I doubt that you have studied much science, like most people who think that science is a question of faith.

Hope: If you are saying that it is impossible to both have faith and be a scientist I beg to differ. I do not have a PhD in science, although I am starting my Doctor of Pharmacy next fall. I have studied enough science to make an informed decision about how I think we got here. If you are saying that there are not huge gaps in the fossil record, I think there are many people that would disagree with you. I know people that support evolution that admit the theory does have flaws. The more I learn about the theory of evolution, the more confident I am that it is not fact. As I said before, it would take far more faith for me to accept evolution than it does for me to believe in a Creator.

David: @Hope, Evolution is a fact. Organism do change over time due to the natural permutation of random defects which either aid or hinder the success of that organism in reproducing and passing on the genetic change to its progeny. This being said there is no rule that said each species has to be accounted for in the fossil record let alone have it be discovered by man. There are very precise conditions needed to fossilize bone into mineral. Even so, as Gary pointed out there is a plethora of fossil evidence all of which supports the change of species over time. These countless snapshots into the earth's biological past coupled with the enormous amount of cosmological and astronomical data analyzed by scientists by applying the laws of physics gives us a relatively great understanding of how the human species arose on this planet. This, in every conceivable way, should logically outweigh the blind acceptance and believe in a god. I am sorry to hear that your apparent aptitude in biology and chemistry has not instilled you with the ability to see this for yourself.

Hope: Well, we will just have to agree to disagree. And as a side note, the flood mentioned in the Bible could also have created the perfect conditions for fossils being found today.

Gary: Hope, we will add geology to the sciences you failed to understand.

Hope: Just because I do not share your viewpoint does not mean I failed to understand something. Now really, lets just agree to disagree. I do not want to get in a proverbial fist fight over this. But thank you for the spirited debate and God bless!

David: Hope If you can call an idiot running, face first, into a wall and then saying "okay wall lets agree to disagree" a spirited debate between the wall and the idiot then...sure.

Me: Hope One could reasonably entertain the Biblical Noachic Flood being the cause of fossils over 200 years ago, but certainly not now. No creationist-inspired sorting has ever proven worthy, be it sorting by size, speed or intelligence, but more importantly, geological strata simply do not fit the flood story.

Shales require tranquil water for deposition. Evaporitic layers like the Duperow formation are consistent with arid conditions, not flood conditions. There are layers upon layers of these things, all of which tell a story, and none of which are consonant with a worldwide flood.

I've seen some creationists try to say that all the layers before the Phanerozoic were put there *before* the Flood - fossils and all - but even trying this split - Phil Senter does a pretty good job of detailing this in "The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology" Some have retreated to placing it in the Precambrian, which is harder to falsify, but would be rather unsatisfying to many believers simply because in this scheme, the Flood would have left no tangible evidence.

Creationist literature is rife with "could have" thinking. It's aggravating to read their papers and books because they speculate wildly but never follow through, like it's enough to just make a guess - or several - about it, maybe make a banal pronouncement, pat you as the reader on the head, and then just drive on, as if it's bad form to linger or be particularly curious.

It's just insulting, like a parent telling their child that the family dog can't really feel pain.

I can agree to let people have time to think about things, and I can agree to like them no matter what they believe, but I really can't agree to disagree on matters like this, especially with throwaway 'side notes'; this isn't sports teams or Dr. Pepper :)

Hope: On the contrary, the fossils found in geological strata have never supported evolution and have in fact dis proven it. A great flood would be a very reasonable way for fossils to be formed. If evolution were a theory proven true, fossils would be found in varying stages of evolution , the oldest being at the bottom and newer ones moving up. That is not the case. Not only have scientists failed to find the "missing links," bones of all ages are being found in every level of strata. The flood is a far superior way to explain the fossil record as it stands today. But I really appreciate you giving your view point in a non-hostile manner:) I love having discussions but see no reason to attack someone if they do not believe as I do. What would you have me do? Disagree to disagree? :D

Gary: Hope... Why continue to lie? You can claim you are merely ignorant of the facts, but then as an ingnorant person you should not inflict that ignorance in public.

Centuries ago, Christians (Saints to over a billion Christians today) urged ignorant people not to deny reality. For example,Thomas Aquinas (c.a. 1225 - 1274), wrote on science, "In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing." - Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q68. Art 1. (1273).

You are violating Christian traditions, and bringing shame on Christian faith.
James 3:1. Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

Me: Whichever sources you are reading must be extraordinarily selective, Hope.The Law of Superposition was developed not just from an intuition about older rocks lying below younger rocks, but ingress of minerals in holes, magma dikes, etc.

Me: That you seem to accept, but claiming that "bones of all ages are being found in every level of strata" is incredibly far from the truth. There are no flowering plants, mammals or dinosaurs in Devonian-depth rocks. There are no primate remains of any sort before the Cretaceous. There are no land plants or fish of any sort down in Cambrian-era rocks.

The thing that disturbs me most about creationist literature - and I've read my share - is that it reads not like the arguments of a scientist or detective, but like those of a defense lawyer: tossing out possible alternative scenarios, leaving implications hanging, selective reading of witnesses and evidence, all in an attempt to sow doubt in the jury. Having looked into the sources they quote - a painstaking but doable process - it's even more aggravating because you can see precisely what they saw... and decided to omit - or worse yet, twist. How they could do that with a clear conscience is beyond me.

One interesting place to play with evolutionary theory is online with genomic and proteomic (i.e. study of proteins) databases, which are open to the public. Everything that's been sequenced and stored can be explored. Pop on to UniProt.org, type in "human alpha hemoglobin chain", pick HBA_HUMAN, click the Blast tab and press the Blast button. There are ten pages of results of decreasing similarity. What species might you expect to see there?

Disagree to disagree, sure :)

Hope: Ritchie, here is the thing. I would agree that looking at the raw data rather than just reading biased material is the scientific way to approach things. But what if the method for collecting the raw data itself is flawed? The dating methods are based on assumptions about decay rate. How can we assume that because something is decaying at a certain rate now, that it has always decayed at that rate? Just because science says that something is fact based on the knowledge we have now does not make it fact. Look at physics. They now think they have found a particle that moves faster than the speed of light. That could change many of the facts they thought they knew. There are non christian scientists that have taken a hard look at evolution and do not accept it. I absolutely agree with you that creationist cannot prove creation by disproving evolution. That is not the way to go about things. However, when I look at all the facts, I just cannot accept evolution, it is based on too many assumptions and too little fact. As far as genetics goes, the human genome has done no more for evolution than any other reasoning has. Our genome shows that we have a common Creator. We are incredibly complex. Sure, there are parts of our DNA that scientists do not yet understand, but that hardly means it is completely useless. Here is a quote that I think sums my thoughts up." The evolutionist is asking us to believe that a tornado can pass through a junkyard and assemble a jumbo jet."

Me: I've heard all of those objections and more in my travels; to a fault, they have been fabricated and never corrected. What next? Collapsing magnetic fields? The moon's too close? Nebraska Man?

There's no sign of a radiometric speedup in the past. Even the creationist papers generally acknowledge a euphemistically-termed 'heat problem' should this have been the case, and that includes the much-vaunted creationist-sponsored R.A.T.E. project. The forehead-slappingest explanation I've ever heard is CreationWiki's means of explaining that away with general relativity of all things.

I've never quite understood the "small exceptions destroy everything" take in some creationist writings. Answers in Genesis 'promotes' Alan Feduccia, who doesn't think that birds come from dinosaurs. That disagreement must mean the whole edifice comes down, right? Massless neutrinos faster than light - the thousands of predictions of the Standard Model must come crashing down? Stuart Pivar thinks embyros form like geometric balloons, the science must crash down from his disagreement?

Thank you for the comment that creationism cannot prove creation just by disproving evolution. It's untrue that there are just the two possibilities, and that's actually lost on a number of people.

The man you indirectly quote near the end there responsible for the "tornado in a junkyard" quote is Fred Hoyle, always interesting even when he's wrong (I have a whole book of his on QSSC, his alternative to Big Bang Theory). He thought that life was too complex to have evolved here, but his solution of choice was panspermia; he thought that bacteria and viruses evolved amongst the organic matter in space.

The "common creator" argument is a common one when talking about the genetic evidence. The problem is that it's not just a matter of functionality. The "common creator" approach leaves patterns completely unexplained.

Hope: Well, thank you anyways for the interesting discussion. I will certainly think about the things you have said to me. You seem very well read. Have you read the book "In 6 days"? It has essays written by 50 different scientists., most of the with PhD's. It is from a very christian point of view, but they do approach the subject of creation from a scientific standpoint. I found one of the excerpts by and organic chemist regarding the whole "big bang" part of evolution really interesting. You have probably already read it, Lol.

Me: For example, a great many proteins have a fairly small active site - the rest of it can be relatively random so long as the polarity falls within a fairly broad range and the length within a lesser. Hemoglobin is one of these.

Despite the identical function of hemoglobin in mammals, the differences in that random section varies in very close correspondence with taxonomic - i.e. 'evolutionary' - distance. There's no good reason from a physiological standpoint for tamarin hemoglobin to be 95% identical and gorilla hemoglobin to be 99% identical to ours.

Also left unexplained are the patterns of genetic parasites, some of which are used in forensics to determine family relations. Things like ERVs - retroviruses that did not get to replicate but got incorporated into the family line - and SINEs and LINEs.

All higher primates (including us) share ltr69, ltr31 and ltr47 (ltr stands for long terminal repeats which flank either side of the retroviral genes). Gorillas, chimps and humans share ltr32 and ltr21q22.2. Humans alone have ltr30 and ltr50.

I've run across creationist objections that ERVs have preferences as to which sites they infect, so it doesn't mean anything. Looking through to the references, the preferences are not single sites - they are *millions* of sites, but since that doesn't sound convincing in the creationist literature - they leave it out, as usual.

Haven't you ever wonder why we're primates - or even mammals - in the first place? Why take on the trappings of other animals, like cerebellums, spleens, placentas, lactation, a four-chambered heart, a pelvic girdle, appendixes, bladders, livers, lungs, cochleas? There are other ways of accomplishing all of the above - spiracles instead of lungs, aortic arches instead of a single heart. Yet, for some reason, we are so similar to other primates that Linnaeus, a full century before any whiff of evolutionary theory, was so struck by the similarity that he could not help but classify humans as primates.

I've always found the "assumptions" charge against evolution - often stated as "Darwinism" - strange. Whenever I've looked for what the "assumptions" are, they have been one of the following: observations; things that would not have even been known at the time and now are (e.g. genetic anything); things that were not disproven in the manner stated (e.g. punctuated equilibria is NOT saltation); things not assumed, but the opposite of creationist assumptions (e.g. "variability is unlimited"); things based on the evidence, but evidence that creationists don't accept ("therefore" it must be an assumption)

We could have discovered otherwise. Stretching your neck could really have passed along longer neck traits to your children. We could have turned out to be genetically unrelated to anything on the planet. We could have discovered that whales and fish were given the exact same standard pack of "ocean genes". We could have discovered Precambrian cows. We just didn't.

Creationists seem to presume that we somehow made up one particular story because we like it solely for some antitheological reason. They've placed us in the role of The Other (at least it's not the Jews this time, I suppose) and need some cockamamie plausible story about why it can't possibly be true but why we're "perverse" enough to persist in the story. It seems to me not dissimilar from moon hoaxers versus NASA (why do they lie about going to the moon?) or 9/11 Truthers versus the Government.

All in all, it looks to me like Pink Floyd's Wall painted like blue sky on the inside.

*laugh* My apologies for the length. Frustrated though I may get, I enjoy articulating thoughts. I hope the joy is shared somewhat :)

My regards...

[to be continued]

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