REPLY #27b 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)
(R) If you really believe that "Science" is some kind of objective, mechanical, system, then you have to believe "humans" aren't involved.
(MB) Why must I believe that? Why put "science" in quotes? I'm assuming that your definition of "science" (should you offer one) will answer that question. Certainly, you can't denigrate the entire discipline in one fell swoop, can you? After all, it is science that has provided you with the computer you are using to debate me. It works, doesn't it? Therefore, the methods employed by science must be sound.
(R) Human's are one of the most philosophical beasts that ever walked the earth.
(MB) This begs a question about what other beasts walking the earth are philosophical.
(R) There is no such thing as "scientists" minus "philosophical biases."
(MB) Why not? And, why is this important (or even relevant)? Putting two and two together and getting "four" as the answer is not philosophy. As I said previously, science puts facts together to reach conclusions. Religion starts with the conclusions and invents "facts" to fit them.
(R) And there is no such thing as a "philosophical biases" that don't negate the objective interpretation of empirical evidence.
(MB) Please give an example or three of "philosophical biases" and historical examples of how they negate the proper interpretation of empirical evidence.
Why should that bother me? Sure, I'd rather that there had never been any bogus information at all, but that's not always possible. What's important is that the errors are fixed when they are discovered. That is what has happened in the cases you mentioned. What disturbs me is how those who oppose evolution can use a corrected hoax as some sort of argument against evolution while still clinging to the biggest hoax of all time for their own pet theory. How long does it take religion to correct its
(R) It should bother you because it is a wart on the face of evolutionary
(MB) Can't warts be excised? Does that process leave irreparable scars? No, the history of such hoaxes as Piltdown Man shows how science is a self-policing discipline which never rests on theories but continually tests them to ensure that they are sound.
(R) Think about, all those school children were deceived by false evidence and you don't care.
(MB) Think about all the school children who were taught that the Earth was flat and unmoving at the center of the universe. That is certainly a much greater mistake and it was corrected without causing permanent damage. Don't get me wrong. I care about the truth but I also understand and accept that mistakes can be made. The important thing is that the theories of science are constantly being tested and that the mistakes are corrected when discovered. This is the major failing of religion dogma. It considers doubt and skepticism to be sins and will hang on to the most ridiculous nonsense for centuries after it has been proven conclusively wrong.
Now, let's consider all the school children who have been deceived by the depredations of religious education or the attempts of Creationists to force their views into the classroom. Is this OK by you?
(R) I didn't bring it up as an argument against evolutionary theory. I brought it up to suggest that maybe what you are showcasing as "evidence" now maybe fictious as well. (Which I think it is)
(MB) Unfortunately for your argument, your doubts are completely unsupported by any facts. Do you have similar doubts about the ideas posited by your religion?
(R) Lastly, what "biggest hoax of all time" are you talking about, and do you have proof that it is a hoax?
(MB) History strongly supports that Man created God in his own image and likeness and not vice-versa. It also supports that Man has done so hundreds of times in many mutually-exclusive variations -- all of which are claimed to be the "one true way" by their adherents and none of which have the first bit of evidence to support them. It would seem reasonable to conclude that a convoluted series of unsupported fairy tales that have been ongoing since before Man even began to write them down would qualify as the biggest hoax of all time.
The theories are scientific precisely because they *are* testable and demonstrable.
(R) How can you actually test this theory unless you have the past in a
(MB) A fossil *is* "the past". So is a sample of geologic strata which was laid down millions or billions of years ago. So is the light from any star in the sky. Also, we can also test and observe the effects of evolution in the present by examining its effects on small organisms which reproduce and evolve over short time scales.
Just because Creationists can't accept them doesn't mean that they are wrong. Creationists will need to come up with some definitive reasons why these theories are wrong rather than just blanketly disavowing them.
(R) Okay. A living organism emerging by chance from a prebiotic soup is about as likely as that of a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and and assembling a Boeing 747 from the loose materials therein. That's mathematical probability.
(MB) No, that's the snake oil mathematics of the ICR's Henry Morris which was popularized by Fred Hoyle and which has already been discussed at length in other postings on this site (use my search engine to look up "Hoyle" or "747"). Briefly, Morris conveniently ignores the fact that organic compounds are self-assembling, do not form one at a time and do not form at random. Then he leaps to a howler of a comparison between living creatures and an inorganic airplane whose parts do not self-assemble.
In addition, your argument is one that does not concern evolution directly. Evolution is not a theory of origins. It is a theory of how life on Earth has developed and diversified *after* it first appeared.
(R) Second, the most discouraging criticism has come from chemists, who have spoiled the prebiotic soup by showing that organic compounds produced on the early earth would be subject to chemical reactions making them unsuitable for constructing life.
(MB) Oh? What chemical reactions are these and how would they cause this unsuitability?
Again, any questions about "prebiotic soup" are questions of origins and not ones about evolution. Other subjects commonly brought up by Creationists which have nothing to do with evolution are the Big Bang, the creation of the universe, and the existence of God.
Now, how can Creationists advance these sorts of arguments against evolution when they themselves propose an alternative which, by their own admission, is untestable, unprovable, and unobservable in addition to having absolutely no supporting evidence whatsoever? Isn't this some sort of double standard?
(R) First, I would contest your statement that what Creationists advance has
"absolutely no supporting evidence whatsoever."
(MB) I'm sure you would contest it. However, I notice that you haven't yet offered up any of this evidence. Could this be because I was right and that there is none to offer?
(R) Second, creationists are at least honest enough to admit that they are interpreting science through a philosophical preconception, which is a whole lot more than I can say for evolutionists who are cherading their philosophy of naturalism as "science."
(MB) Translation: "We Creationists don't have any idea what science says, but we know that we don't like it. We also know that we can't support our own ideas, so we'll try to hide that fact by concentrating on nitpicking at science and hope nobody notices."
Evidence exists trapped in small pockets within the oldest rocks.
(R) But how do you know that it was "pre-biotic soup" that made those marks in the oldest rocks? Is there evidence for this or is it just your blind faith?
(MB) The evidence is not "marks on rocks". It is actual trapped samples of "pre-biotic soup". When volcanoes erupt and the lava cools to form igneous rock, the process normally entraps air and liquids which existed at the time of the rocks' formation.
No, but we do have evidence of them as related above. Since we have evidence of them, we can recreate those environments and conduct tests on them.
(R) Marks on rocks is not evidence of pre-biotic soup. It is evidence of marks on rocks.
(MB) Quite true. But, I have already pointed out the error in your "marks on rocks" statement.
(R) We are recreating the figments of our fertile imaginations since we do not have the past in the laboratory, and therefore, can only speculate about what the early earth was actually comprised of.
(MB) Since we do have samples, we are not relegated solely to speculations.
Since we do have this evidence, your criticism is off-base.
(R) Since you have non-evidence of this, my criticism is right on.
(MB) Wanna try that again?
Since the premise of this argument is wrong, the conclusion is invalid.
(R) Since the premise for my argument is unrefuted, the conclusion I gave is
(MB) How about rethinking this one?
Please give an example of this sort of speciation with which you don't agree. For example, a common Creationist argument is that evolution is wrong since we don't see cats turning into dogs. Of course, evolution doesn't claim such a thing, either, but Creationists conveniently forget that.
(R) "Creationists" aside, I never claimed that evolution says dogs and cats have the same ancestor.
(MB) Probably only because I brought it up first. Later on, you will present a quote that is supposedly support for such a claim. Since you offer it up as some sort of proof of your position, I can only assume that you agree with the "cats into dogs" argument.
(R) The "speciation" I disagree with is simple - "Trans-special." The idea of trans-special, or "macro-evolution" is science-fiction.
(MB) How can it be "science-fiction" when it has been directly observed?
(R) "Balanoglossus," "Austalopithecus afaresis," "Coelacanth," "Tunicate," among many others are not transitional.
(MB) Please explain why they fail the test. Do you even know which creatures these are or have you just copied down a listing from a Creationist writing? Please give your definition of "transitional species" so I can see if you understand what you are disputing.
(R) I am familiar with the evolutionist's golden oldies so don't even bring them up.
(MB) Translation: "I know that there are many unrefutable examples of transitional forms and don't wish to be cornered by having them entered into the discussion."
If this is not true, please give examples of the "golden oldies" with which you claim to be familiar and detail exactly why they are not transitional forms.
(R) I reject all of them wholly based on their evolutionary interpretations.
(MB) Translation: "I don't believe them even though I don't understand them because that's what the tracts tell me to believe." If this is not true, please explain the "evolutionary interpretations" that cause you to reject all examples of transitional forms.
Now, we have arrived at the section of your response that is copied verbatim from a Creationist web site -- despite your protestations to the contrary. The proof of this is found on the Creation Science Home Page and the exact URL of the page which was plagiarized is:
I haven't yet perused the entire site, but I have found many of your other arguments on this site and suspect that the majority of them will be found to have been lifted from it. You deny that you are a Creationist, but your choice of reference material speaks otherwise. On to the rest of your response...
You are taking Gould out of context. Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium states that evolution is not a continuous and unbroken tale of progressive development. Instead, sudden bursts of speciation interrupt longer periods of relative stasis. The sudden changes happen after catastrophic events such as the asteroid impact which brought about the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals. Stasis sets in when the available ecological niches are filled by existing species.
(R) Dr. Gould, however, in one of his regular columns in Natural History
magazine (May 1977) said:
"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the
fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. In any local
area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of
its ancestors, it appears all at once and fully formed."
(MB) Here is a classic contextual misquote from Gish (as are most of the others you will bring up). Gould is not saying that there are *no* transitional forms. He is talking about the difference between punctuated equilibrium and Darwinian gradualism. Gradualism predicts that we should find an unbroken series of smooth transitional forms -- which, as Gould is pointing out, are not what we find in the fossil record. Gish wishes people to believe that Gould is claiming that we find *no* transitional forms whatsoever. This is clearly untrue.
In response to Gish's distortions, Gould wrote in "Hen's Teeth and Horses' Toes (1983)":
"...since we proposed punctuated equilibrium to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists - whether through design or stupidity, I do not know - as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level but are abundant between larger groups".
(R) Paleontologist Dr. David B. Kitts agrees:
"Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology
does not provide them" (Evolution 28:476).
(MB) Kitts agrees with Gould, but not in the way that Gish would like to have you believe.
(R) Dr. David Raup, a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, recently pointed out that Darwin himself was:
"embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn't look the way he
predicted it would -- different species usually appear and disappear from
the record without showing the transitions that Darwin postulated -- we are
now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has
been greatly expanded..."
(MB) If you've ever actually read Darwin's "Origin of Species", you'll see that Darwin was hardly "embarrassed" by what the fossil record showed during his lifetime. The relevant passage is found on pages 340-341:
"I have attempted to show that the geological record is extremely imperfect; that only a small portion of the globe has been geologically explored with care; that only certain classes of organic beings have been largely preserved in a fossil state; that the number both of specimens and of species, preserved in our museums, is absolutely as nothing compared with the incalculable number of generations which must have passed away even during a single formation; that, owing to subsidence being necessary for the accumulation of fossiliferous deposits thick enough to resist future degradation, enormous intervals of time have elapsed between the successive formations; that there has probably been more extinction during the periods of subsidence, and more variation during the periods of elevation, and during the latter the record will have been least perfectly kept; that each single formation has not been continuously deposited; that the duration of each formation is, perhaps, short compared with the average duration of specific forms; that migration has played an important part in the first appearance of new forms in any one area and formation; that widely ranging species are those which have varied most, and have oftenest given rise to new species; and that varieties have at first often been local. All these causes taken conjointly, must have tended to make the geological record extremely imperfect, and will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps."
(R) (quote continued)
"...We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much -- We have fewer examples of evolutionary transiton than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information" (Field Museum Natural History Bulletin 50:22-29).
(MB) If you want to find out about what Raup really thinks about the arguments and tactics of Creationists, check out "The geological and paleontological arguments of creationism" (p.147-162), which is contained in "Scientists Confront Creationism", edited by L.R. Godfrey.
(R) The evolutionist Dr. Steven M. Stanley put it bluntly:
"The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition -" (Macroevolution: Pattern and Process 1979 p.39).
(MB) This is the 20-dollar word version of the "cats don't turn into dogs" argument. Obviously, Stanley doesn't believe in it, but Creationists love to quote this passage and hope that their lay audience can be convinced to think that he is refuting speciation in its entirety.
(R) I think I quoted them in context.
(MB) How can you possibly make such a claim when I have proven that you merely copied these quotes verbatim and in exact order from a Creationist web site? The only "context" here is the Creationist agenda.
(R) So where are you gettin your information from? "Infidels.com"?
(MB) That's a ".org" site and not ".com". Also, the Internet Infidels site is not about promoting evolution. It promotes such things as atheism, agnosticism, non-belief, irreligion, and separation of church and state. I think that the site you are fumbling for is Talk.Origins at:
"http://www.talkorigins.org". This is an excellent repository of information, but is certainly not the only one. Of course, I take advantage of it but also own many books on the subject and also try to keep up by reading various science magazines and journals. There is certainly no lack of available information.
It also shows the divergence of ancestral species into different descendant lines. Some of those lines survive and prosper while others die out. The record of the development of the modern horse, Equus, is solid proof of evolution in action.
(R) I am familiar with "Equus." It is one of your golden oldies.
(MB) Which just demonstrates that you are really not familiar with it. Do you have any specific objections that you could detail?
(R) But Mr. David Raup has admitted that the classic evolutionary case of the horse has had to be discarded or severly modified as a result of more detailed information.
(MB) That would be shocking news to the rest of the scientific community if it was interpreted in the sense that the Creationists wish. What Raup (and others) are actually pointing out is that the common layman's interpretation of the evolution of the horse is wrong and needs to be discarded. That common interpretation is that Equus is the result of a directed and progressive sequence of speciation events that has produced a modern successful lineage. In reality, Equus is the sole survivor of a formerly much more copious lineage of descendants from Hyracotherium and is more properly viewed as the last gasp of a dying family.
You are taking one small cut and extrapolating it to the whole of the fossil record in order to reach an invalid conclusion.
(R) No I am not. I am taking the whole fossil record which shows stasis and interpreting the few ambigious forms (a.k.a fossil transitions) in light of what the fossil evidence suggests as a whole.
(MB) You can't be taking "the whole fossil record" since that shows anything *but* stasis. Furthermore, you are merely parroting Gish's shady manglings of "species" and "transitional forms".
Indeed, this is an issue with a lot that can be discussed. Unfortunately for them, the Creationists are fighting a hopelessly losing battle on this one. Not only do they not have one solid argument against evolution, they don't have any decent arguments in favor of their own alternative theory. So, they fail miserably on both ends of the debate. Science has already won this debate conclusively. The fact that Creationists still dispute this is no more reason to take their objections seriously than the existence of the Flat Earth Society is any reason to doubt that the Earth is spherical.
(R) There is not one true statement in the above paragraph.
(MB) Quite right. There is not one true statement -- there are six!
(R) I can see that you have a great deal of desire to believe such, but I realize it is convienent for you to frame the situation as "science vs. religion," which it is not.
(MB) Since the only people who oppose evolution are religious fundamentalists and since their own alternatives are all religiously based, how can this debate be anything *but* science vs. religion?
(R) This is the stereotypical ignorance talking again.
(MB) You have yet to demonstrate how it is either stereotypical *or* ignorant.
(R) But I agree with Albert Einstein (thiest) who said: "Science without religion is lame, Religion without science is blind."
(MB) Einstein was not a theist. He believed in what is known as "Spinoza's God" -- a belief in the inherent beauty and coherence of nature and the universe. Einstein (and others who hold similar beliefs) refer to "God" in the same sense that one refers to "Mother Nature". In other words, the usage is a personification or anthropomorphization of a collection of facts and ideas and does not express an actual belief in the independent existence of such an entity.
The quote you reference should be combined with another insight by Einstein in which he says that the person to whom wonderment and awe are strangers is as good as dead. That is the basis for the first part of the above quotation. The second part is something that fundamentalists should take to heart.