REPLY #27a 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.
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and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
This is the first of a two-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
And, just how would I be showing this? Am I ignorant for understanding and accepting the facts demonstrated by science? Would I be better advised to abandon reality in order to transition to blind faith in the 4000-year-old myths of Hebrew nomads and the intellectual emptiness of apologetic writers?
(R) You are being ignorant for confusing science with evolution.
(MB) At this point, what I will need from you is your personal definitions of "science" and "evolution" along with an analysis of how they are in conflict. Your blanket statement is meaningless without them. They are necessary in order to make your case for what "confusion" is supposedly taking place and to determine whether or not you know what you are arguing about or if you are just unwittingly copying and parroting the standard mantras of Creationist writers.
(R) You are better advised to abandon your 140-year-old mythology of "descent with modification" and embrace reality which conclusively shows that the question of origins has not been answered.
(MB) Please explain your concept of "reality" as it relates to this discussion and include relevant facts that will support that concept and demonstrate how it is "conclusive".
(R) First, I am not a "creationist."
(MB) This is a current tactic of Creationists. Deny the label while not varying one whit from the classic doctrines. No matter. It's not what you call yourself, but what you say that counts. As I will demonstrate in response to your major argument later in this post, you may deny being a Creationist, but you copy your arguments verbatim from Creationist writings.
(R) I don't care much for your silly labels.
(MB) If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and sounds like a duck...
(R) My beliefs are very complex and agree and disagree with both camps at different junctures.
(MB) So far, your "beliefs" seem to amount to little more than plagiarism without explanation. This is hardly "complex". Also, I haven't yet seen a single word which disagrees with the dogma of Creationism or which agrees with evolution theory. Please explain your complex beliefs in more detail and include sample points of where you agree with evolution and disagree with Creationism.
(R) Second, what empirical evidence to you have that supports that what the Hebrews believed 4,000 years ago was mythology?
(MB) How about the fact that this Hebrew mythology wasn't even original with those Hebrews and was, in fact, derivative of the prevailing beliefs of contemporary Hindus, Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, etc.? Also, there is the small problem of there being absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any notion that their beliefs are *not* pure mythology. Just because a belief is old is no indication that it is true. Like any other belief, the final judgment as to whether it is true or false must be made based upon the evidence. If there is no evidence to support a given proposition, then it is nearly impossible to support that proposition as being true.
There is bound to be contention between any systems which approach issues from opposite directions. Science reaches conclusions by examining the available evidence. Religion starts with the conclusions it desires and cares little for whether or not there is any evidence to support them.
(R) Ah, here is the sterotypical nonsense that I was talking about.
(MB) Where? Are you claiming that neither science nor religion works in the way I have described? Please support such a claim with specifics instead of blanket derogatory comments.
(R) What available evidence is there that punctuated equilibrium occurred?
(MB) It's called "the fossil record". Now, I know that you will just brush that aside and line up behind Duane Gish's 20-year-old and thoroughly refuted book, but the evidence *is* there. Any attempt to disavow it will require details as to why it is wrong and how it actually supports the Creationist's views.
(R) Does it exist or is this a "conclusion Gould desired, and cared little for whether or not there is any evidence to support it?"
(MB) It exists. Gould's theory would not have been advanced and would not have received global acceptance if it was not derived from available evidence. Even if somebody does not agree with Gould, the evidence is still there for that person to examine and to use in advancing his own theory. Scientific theories have intellectual force precisely because they cannot be advanced without supporting evidence and because that evidence can be freely examined by anyone who wishes to test the theory's validity.
(R) Also, I did much study and research on the history of Christianity and the Bible before I became a Christian.
(MB) What were you before you became a Christian? Does becoming a Christian automatically mean that you must be against evolution? Why? Explain why the Pope believes in evolution. Isn't he a Christian? Why do you believe that evolution and Christianity are incompatible? Science doesn't believe this.
(R) I found the evidence to be convincing and overwhelming. This is hardly blind-faith.
(MB) What "evidence" is this and where did you find it? How can it be "convincing and overwhelming" when even many apologists (and the Bible itself, for that matter) say that Christianity is a matter of faith and not one of facts?
You forget that paleontology was an infant science in Darwin's lifetime. As it progressed, its findings provided more and more solid evidence in support of Darwin. You also forget that clergymen initially only thought that evolution applied to the Galapagos creatures that Darwin observed. When they finally came to understand that it applies equally to Homo sapiens, that's when they turned on Darwin.
(R) Oh really?
(MB) Yes, really. Would Christian fundamentalists be so adamantly opposed to evolution if it supported the special creation of Man while reserving speciation for other creatures? Why?
(R) Some of the world's most eminent paleontologists have said the exact opposite of what you just said.
(MB) Oh? Please provide the names of some of these eminent paleontologists and try to stay away from the standard Creationist misquotes and distortions of their writings -- such as the ones you will present later on in this response.
(R) Are you a paleontologist?
(MB) Nope, but that's not necessary. I still understand the science and its findings.
(R) If not, I'll believe the paleontologists.
(MB) Great! Now, try reading what they really say and not the distortions and misquotes published in the Creationist tracts. I think you'll find it rather illuminating.
This couldn't be any more wrong. The fossil record shows anything *but* stasis over the billions of years it chronicles.
(R) Once again, it is YOU who is wrong.
(MB) Not on *this* planet in *this* universe. The fact that over 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct and that no current living species has existed for more than a small fraction of the time recorded in the entirety of the fossil record should be rather conclusive proof that the history of life of Earth has been dynamic rather than static.
(R) The single greatest problem which the fossil record poses for Darwinism is the "Cambrian Explosion" of allegedly 600 million years ago.
(MB) Why do you say "allegedly" 600 million years ago? Are you one of those who believes that the Earth is only 6000 years old?
(R) Nearly all the animal phyla appear in the rocks of this period, without a trace of evolutionary ancestors or history.
(MB) Quite true. The fossil record of this period chronicles the development of the first widespread multicellular life forms. Prior to this, unicellular organisms were all that there was. Since this was a radical new development in the evolution of life on Earth (though not as radical as the rise of eukaryotes where there had previously only been prokaryotes), there should be little surprise in a finding that such organisms would proliferate and diversify quickly to fill the numerous available ecological niches.
(R) As Richard Dawkins puts it, "It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history."
(MB) Dawkins is not siding with the Creationists. In fact, he is one of the more vocal anti-Creationists. This statement (commonly taken out of context by Creationists) is only a reflection upon the relative geological suddenness of the appearance of the new multicellular life forms. It takes only a moment's thought to understand why they would have no "history" since they hadn't previously existed! What is your explanation of the Cambrian fossil evidence? Certainly, you can't claim it "doesn't exist". If this is "the singlest greatest problem which the fossil record poses", evolution is very solid, indeed.
(R) The Big Horn Basin in Wyoming contains a continuous local record of fossil deposits for about five million years, during an early period in the age of mammals. Because this record is so complete, paleontologists assumed that certain populations of the basin could be linked together to illustrate continuous evolution. On the contrary, species that were once thought to have turned into others turned out to overlap in time with their alleged descendants, and according to Steven Stanley: "the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another."
(MB) Here's another famous contextual misquote. When speciation occurs, the old species do not suddenly "vanish" as the new ones arise. That old buzzard is another Gishism. For speciation to occur, a series of changes must occur and accumulate within an existing population. Sometimes, these changes result in a new species that co-exists with its ancestor. At other times, the new species proliferates and replaces its ancestor over time. Still other times, the new species itself dies out while the ancestor lives on. Stanley is saying the obvious -- that one species does not suddenly die out while being totally and simultaneously replaced by its descendants. Therefore, overlapping species are what we should expect to find. As you have just pointed out in your argument, that is exactly what we *do* find.
(R) In addition, species remain fundamentally unchanged for an average of one million years before disappearing from the record.
(MB) So, what's the problem? If a species changes fundamentally, it has evolved into a new species. For mammals, this is a lengthy process. For unicells, it can happen relatively quickly -- as proven in laboratory experiments with bacteria.
(R) Of course Steve Stanley has to rely on some explanation or (excuse) for this problem by appealing to the untestable theory that random mutations in the "regulatory gene" might alter the program for embryonic development sufficiently enough to produce a new form within one or more generations. Once again, more evolutionary mythology to displace the lack of empirical evidence.
(MB) Seems to me that you just explained some of the evidence which you then go on to claim is "lacking". In any case, the process has been proven (as mentioned in the previous paragraph), so you will need to explain why the evidence is "wrong".
Evolution theory is one of the great triumphs of science and is among the most well-established and solidly demonstrated theories ever.
(R) Evolution is a theory that was produced by the philosophical dogma that "natural processes" are the almighty power that can change bacterium into a man, simply given enough time and about a couple million lucky, and hugely improbable mutations.
(MB) This is hardly "philosophical dogma". The supporting evidence is overwhelming and can lead to no other conclusions. The main flaw in your argument is the supposition that evolution postulates the inevitable and predictable appearance of Man at the end of a series of speciation events which began with the earliest organism. Evolution does not say this at all. In fact, evolution says that if the process began anew, it is far more likely that an entirely different and unpredicatable series of events and speciations would have arisen. Intelligent creatures may evolve in many such possible scenarios, but beings exactly equal to Man only evolved due to the particular history that the Earth has experienced. Yes, one might well consider the rise of Man to be "lucky" and even "improbable", but "improbable" is a long, long way from "impossible".
Evolution is not a directed process which must inevitably lead to Homo sapiens. Rather, Homo sapiens is a minor twig on the fringes of the hugely branching bush of Earthly life. It is an accident which has arisen amidst a flourishing ecosystem entirely dominated by unicellular organisms. Religion's "philosophical dogma" is that Man is the pinnacle of creation. Clearly, this is not so.
(R) You can tout all you want about how triumphant and demonstatable evolution is, but this does make it so.
(MB) So long as it continues to be a statement whose truth is unquestioned by thinking people, I will continue to state it. Given the incredible amount of solid evidence which supports evolution, it will take a monumental disproof to tear it down. At best, Creationists might be able to make small dents in one or more of the numerous mechanics that are a part of the overall theory, but they haven't even managed that so far after nearly four decades of intensive efforts. What chance can they possibly have of uprooting the entire theory?
Just like religion, eh? The difference is that religion seeks to protect its fiction, fantasy, and frauds since it has nothing else with which to support itself. Science actively tests and retests all of its theories to weed out anything which isn't on the up-and-up.
(R) I think it is comical how you change the subject and refer to religion. My comment was about evolution.
(MB) So was mine. The subject was not changed. I was only taking your earlier criticism of evolution and showing how it more properly applies to the religious dogma of Creationism. I notice that you didn't deny that.