REPLY #21b TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
This is the last of a two-part reply.
(R) It cannot be proven just as evolution can't be proven.
(MB) In the strictest sense, neither creation of evolution can be 100% proven. In a universe ruled by quantum uncertainty, *nothing* in the physical realm can be 100% proven. However, this is not necessary. The weight of accumulated evidence in favor of any theory can raise its level of validity to so near that of absolute proof that the difference is hardly worth considering. This is the case for evolution. Creationism, on the other hand, has not a single shred of evidence which supports it. Therefore, its level of validity is so close to ZERO that it is hardly worth the effort to consider it. When two theories are in conflict and neither has been proven, the one which comes closer to that ideal is the one which is superior. Since evolution and Creationism are all but
diametrically opposed in their levels of validity, it is clear that evolution is the superior theory.
(R) I don't know about you but I hear and read way too often that evolution is a "scientific fact" and that it has been "proven."
(MB) The fact that evolution occurs has been proven since speciation has been observed. It is only the minor details of exactly *how* speciation occurs and the uncompleted work in completing a complete genealogy of all living and historical species that prevent the science as a whole from being entirely proven in all cases.
(R) A sound creationist knows the definition of proof and can't say that for creation.
(MB) Not only can't they claim "proof" for creation, they can't even claim the slightest shred of validity or evidential support. Unfortunately, since 94% of the American public is scientifically-illiterate and over 80% is Christian, there will always be a potential audience for Creationism.
(R) Since evolution falls into history and origins, it falls outside the realm of science.
(MB) Oh? How? And why do you say that evolution falls into history and origins? Evolution is not a theory of how life originated, it is a theory of how life has progressed and diversified *after* it originated on Earth. How does this fall outside the realm of science?
(R) The same goes for creation.
(MB) Creationism falls outside the realm of science since it must rely on the supernatural for its very foundation. It also falls outside the realm of science since it displays a consistent disdain for the scientific method of inquiry in favor of relying on blind faith.
(R) No, evolution is not, and never will be, proven. But evolution is still being taught as fact all over the place dominating the educational system, scientific literature, and nature programs.
(MB) Evolution is a much more solid fact than are, for example, economics or psychiatry, but nobody complains about those subjects when they are taught in schools. The outcry from the Creationists has nothing to do with "fact" and everything to do with the fear that their cherished religious notions might be in danger if the public's scientific literacy increases.
(R) I'll tell you the truth. I think that SAT scores, at least in science, would improve if science teachers concentrated on regular science rather than on evolutionary ideas.
(MB) Oh? Why? All science consists of the study of data and theories and the practice of objective and rigorous methods of inquiry. Also, what qualifies as "regular" science in your argument? Evolution theory incorporates theories from many different areas, such as chemistry, biology, paleontology, geology, physics, etc. Which of those doesn't qualify as a "regular" science?
(R) Do you believe this should be the case, evolutionary ideas only, or would it be better if both sides, evolution and creation, shared equal time and that students should decide for themselves?
(MB) Since Creationism is religion and not science, it has no place in a classroom where science is being taught. Now, how about the other side of the coin? Wouldn't you think it would be better if Christian churches gave equal time to preachers of other religions or speakers promoting atheism and let the congregations decide for themselves?
(R) The burning candle example goes to show that radiometric decay could not have remained the same for millions or even billions of years (if they've even been around that long).
(MB) OH? How does it do that? How does candle wax equate to radioactive decay?
(R) I must also remind you that when geologists look for rock samples they try to obtain a sample that doesn't appear to have been
(MB) So, what's your point? Why test a sample that you know is contaminated?
(R) But if all rocks went through this catastrophic Flood, being under water for a year, and the buckling and bending of the Earth's crust, there almost certainly would have been much rock contamination.
(MB) Oh? How? And, how would rock layers deep under the surface have been affected by any such Flood? How would Moon rocks have been affected by a Flood on the Earth?
(R) Also, if things were created with the appearance of age, rocks just might give an age of millions of years.
(MB) And, if rocks were created with vocal cords, they could tell us how old they were. In other words, what point does an unsupportable speculation make?
(R) Oh, and what was the point of putting extraterrestrials changing the flow of time or the laws of physics in the candle example?
(MB) Just to demonstrate that a proponent of a shaky theory can insert any sort of conditions -- no matter how implausible -- in order to try to buttress his ideas. Fortunately, since scientists rely on evidence rather than rhetoric, such nonsense can be safely discarded while trying to answer real questions.
(R) In another part of your last reply you said that none of my "'unknowns' are really unknown." So, you know the oceanic soup complex, the atmospheric composition, and the chemicals used for life to form, among the others?
(MB) Yep, since evidence of these things is found trapped in ancient rocks and strata. It also corresponds to astrophysical theories about the formation of solar systems.
(R) What has been reproduced in the lab?
(MB) Are you aware of the famous experiments conducted by Stanley Miller in the 1950's? They were the just the beginning and you may want to read up on them first.
(R) Surely your not implying that life has been created in a test tube?
(MB) Nope. But, the building blocks of life have been created and the processes under which this occurs have been replicated. What can't be replicated are the billions of creation events and billions of years of attempted combinations of the building blocks that resulted in the construction of the first living thing. We'll be able to simulate this when we finally learn how to manipulate individual atoms.
(R) You also stated that you didn't think creationist were properly using the word "theory."
(MB) That's correct. A common Creationist attack against evolution is that "it's only a theory" as if "theory" is synonymous with "wild-ass guess".
(R) Your example of this misuse is Newtonian Gravity.
(MB) My example was meant to show the difference between a scientific "theory" and a "law".
(R) Let me point out to you that the developer of this theory, Isaac Newton, believed in creation and was a strong Christian.
(MB) I know that, but I fail to see how this makes any difference. Newtonian gravity is a mathematical equation describing a fundamental physical force. It is not a statement of religious views. Also, Newton believed that God created the heavens and the Earth, but he was not a young-earth Creationist who thought that the Earth was only 6000 years old.
(R) Listen to his view on atheism:
"Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth
at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance." On the sun and other heavenly bodies he said, "The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being."
- Taken from, "Inventor, Scientist, and Teacher; Isaac Newton"
by John Hudson Tiner.
(MB) OK, so what's your point? This says nothing about young-Earth Creationism. It says nothing different from what the majority of Christians believe. Despite what you might think, science and the belief in God are not mutually-exclusive. However, some of the attributes that Man ascribes to his God(s) may well be nonsensical in the light of scientific knowledge -- as is the case with most of the things attributed to Yahweh by Fundamentalist Creationists.
(R) I also have to say that gravity isn't only a theory; it's a scientific law, which evolution isn't.
(MB) And, you would be incorrect once again. Newtonian gravity is not a law since it is demonstrably insufficient at the relativistic and quantum levels.
(R) You said one of the most absurd comments in your last reply. You said "...it would have been far more unlikely for life *not* to have appeared here." Let me ask you a question: What probability are you basing this statement on?
(MB) Since living things are made of building blocks which self-assemble, all that is required for life to appear is for the ingredients to be present and for there to be enough time for the processes to happen. Since these requirements are satisfied on the Earth, the origin of life on this planet (and on any similar planet) is very likely. How is this "absurd"?
(R) In your excerpt from Astronomy magazine entitled "Where Do Comets Come From?", it says that astronomers have an idea of the comet population in the Oort Cloud, an estimation of the size of this cloud, it's distance from the earth, the shape of the innermost cloud, that the cloud is rapidly expanding, that the gradual pull of giant gas planets have brought in some comets, that runaway stars "perturb" the orbits of the comets in the Oort Cloud sending some of them towards the sun, an estimation of how many stars have "perturbed" the cloud (you say 5,000), and a "giant molecular cloud" also being a possibility for cometary disturbances. Yet another possibility being "gravitational tides" which is said to be, "Created by the gravitational force of material in the galactic disk...". Also there's an estimation, in percentage, of how many long period comets were affected by these "galactic tides", and an estimation of how many stars have passed close enough "to stir up even the Hills Cloud of comets." (9), which is supposed to be the innermost cloud!
(MB) OK, so what's the problem? Seems as though there's a lot here to support the theory. I notice that you delimit a few words and phrases with quotes. Does this mean that you consider them silly or that you don't understand what is being said?
(R) If the casual reader read this, I'm sure that he'd without a doubt assume that people have obviously seen this cloud and studied it thoroughly.
(MB) Why would they assume that the cloud has been "seen"? Since any thinking person would know that comets are small bodies and that such small objects can't be directly observed at the distances of the Oort cloud, they would know that there can't be any pictures showing them. However, when orbital projections of comets show that they all originate from common belts of space, this provides evidence for a cloud of such objects.
(R) Although, the only time the excerpt mentions actually seeing anything is when they say the Kiuper Belt as resembling "a flattened ring just beyond the orbit of Neptune." Even by reading this it isn't clear, since it's so short and vague, to know whether they've actually seen something or if that's what they think it looks like. And even after this, they quickly turn to a computer
simulation on how they think it looks.
(MB) Since it is impossible to photograph the Kuiper Belt, why shouldn't a computer simulation be used?
(R) Also in the excerpt they clearly focus on speculation rather than on actual evidence when they should be concentrating on
pointing the Hubbel Space Telescope in the cloud's direction.
(MB) Once again, no object as small and dark as a comet can be resolved at those distances by any telescope we have. Hmmm...I *did* predict your argument at the end of Reply #17, didn't I?
(R) I don't see estimations, probabilities, or theoretical calculations as any sort of evidence for an Oort Cloud. (Do you have an article that concentrates on evidence of the Oort Cloud?)
(MB) I gave you one. Just because you arbitrarily decide not to accept it and demand an impossible standard in its place doesn't disqualify it from being evidence of the Oort Cloud.
(R) I did explain why comets have an effect on evolution. For evolution to be possible it needs the time to occur, right? Since you believe comets have been around since the inception of the solar system, and comets only last 10,000 years, it effects the age of the earth itself and everything in it. The life within the earth needs that time to evolve. No time; no evolution!
(MB) The only comets that last only 10,000 years are the ones that are perturbed out of their normally-distant orbits into new orbits that bring them close to the Sun. The comets that go into new orbits don't affect the lifetimes of those which remain in the Oort Cloud. These will stay there for billions of years until they get knocked out of their happy homes into a suicidal blaze of glory near the Sun.
So, tell us once again how the few comets that end up going into doomed
orbits near the Sun provide any proof that the Earth can't be more than 10,000 years old.
(R) I don't see something as far as quasars as support for either creation or evolution.
(MB) They aren't. Their ages are powerful arguments against the Creationist model that God's creation is only a few thousand years old.
(R) Tell me how the "vast age" of quasars are calculated.
(MB) By measuring the red shifts of the light they emit and applying Hubble's Law.
(R) Something's a little off when you admitted that the moon is, at the present rate, leaving the earth at 2 in. per year. When I first mentioned this fact to you, you said this was, "guesswork calculations first performed in the late 1800's without benefit of more accurate modern mesurements and research. Why creationist still uphold 100-year-old faulty equations as gospel (pardon the pun) is beyond most thinking people." If the moon is in fact leaving us at 2 in. per year why did you say the calculations done in the 1800's are
(MB) The current measured rate of recession isn't guesswork. What I said was that the invalid extrapolation of an unchanged current rate back throughout history was guesswork. I provided the necessary references and explanation at the beginning of Reply #19. Did you miss them? Why do Creationists always ignore new data and hang on to old errors?
(R) Whatever anyone said, or didn't say, about the moon dust isn't the point. The point is that there is, at most, 3 in. of dust on the moon. What's your explanation?
(MB) My explanation is that this is exactly as it should be. Creationist argument depends on data that was invalidated three decades ago. Modern measurements by space probes of dust influx show amounts some 400 times less than the old data that the Creationists still hold up as "fact".
(R) The missing tree ring idea is still not clear to me. It doesn't matter how many trees you look at. How can you tell if a tree is missing a ring?
(MB) If you examine numerous trees in the same area, you can match up the rings produced during each year of their lives. Each ring has its own characteristics that are produced by climatic conditions during the year of its growth and can easily be matched up between trees. If you examine 10 trees and 9 exhibit the same ring while the 10th does not, you have found a "missing ring".
(R) On the ape issue, you're right, you don't think we're descendants of ''apes'' exactly. Let me rephrase that: you think we come from an ape-like creature that's dubbed simply "common ancestor." But, no traces of such a creature have yet been found.
(MB) That's not correct. There are several candidates, but no common agreement as of yet as to exactly which one can be unambiguously labeled as the point after which the divergence of Man and Ape first took place. In no way does this indicate that no such divergence actually took place and that Man was somehow "specially created" in any way.
(R) Other charts include the name "Gigantopithecus" as the first in line. However this creature has been discovered to be nothing more than an extinct ground ape. In fact, Richard Leakey has taken it off the chart leading to man and placed it in a totally separate line. One place to see this is in Time magazine of November 7, 1977.
(MB) Those must have been interesting charts, since Gigantopithecus is an ape that lived in China at the same time as Homo erectus and was 10 feet tall and weighed some 1200 pounds. It falls in the ancestry of orangutans and not of Homo sapiens. Leakey's action was, therefore, totally correct. Creationists have attempted to portray Gigantopithecus as being an ancestor of Peking Man, but this is clearly ludicrous.
(R) If Leakey, one of the leading evolutionists, has taken what was once thought of as our "common ancestor" off the chart, we might as well remove him too.
(MB) It was only Creationists who portrayed Gigantopithecus as the "common ancestor" of Man and Ape. Since it was a contemporary of Homo erectus, it could not have been the ancestor of hominids.
(R) Since this link has never been found we can only conclude that he must be still missing.
(MB) No, we can only conclude that we haven't yet conclusively shown which species is the one that we are trying to label as the common ancestor of Man and Ape. We may already have it or it may yet be awaiting discovery.
(R) You said that I have ignored the evidence for evolving man. Ignored what? A few bones? I'd like you to tell me what I'm actually "ignoring."
(MB) How about checking out this web site
for the answers to your questions? I think you'll find that there's a great amount of things that have slipped by you.
(R) When I mentioned the law of Biogenesis and spontaneous generation, you said, "There is no real science being violated here." How can you say that? You still have to admit that the law of biogenesis must have been broken at one point for life to have formed by chance.
(MB) Why must I say that? For this to be true, you must try to support the idea that living things are made, at least in part, of something other than the elements which make everything else in the universe. If this is so, what is it? Do you understand that flies "magically" appearing from decaying meat is not the same thing as self-assembling organic molecules?
(R) The creation of heaven and Earth doesn't violate the second law in any way. It starts with order and then, after the fall, starts becoming more and more disorderly.
(MB) You forget that God is claimed to have created everything from nothing. If there is "nothing", there can't be any order. Also, your implied definition of "order" is not correct - either before or after any putative "fall". "Order", in the thermodynamical sense, has nothing at all to do with Man behaving the way God might have decreed.
(R) And anyways, why should the Creator of scientific laws be restrained by them?
(MB) What evidence is there that any "Creator" created the laws of science or that it would be possible for him to be immune from their effects?
(R) Let me also say that simply because you don't know how a cause can fit into radioactive decay or the shining of stars doesn't mean there isn't any.
(MB) In this case, it does. It's a basic principle of quantum mechanics.
(R) Scientists, whether creationist or evolutionists, certainly haven't explained everything.
(MB) Scientists haven't explained everything. Creationists haven't explained *anything*.
(R) The existence of God does not violate anything.
(MB) Except for most basic principles of science and logic, of course...
(R) Like I said before, God isn't bound by scientific laws.
(MB) How do you know that?
(R) He's infinite and doesn't have a beginning or an end. Look at Psalms 90:2.
(MB) OK, let's start with the first verse...
PSA 90:1 - <A Prayer of Moses the man of God.> Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
PSA 90:2 - Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou [art] God.
OK, so we have a prayer. What does this prove except that the author worshipped God? It doesn't prove that God exists, it doesn't prove anything about God, it's no proof that the Biblical version of God is any better than the deities worshipped by any other religion and it can't be used as proof of its own validity. So, what's your point? And, how does this apply to evolution in any way?