REPLY #28a 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 first of a five-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
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.
(R) --Science - "Methodological discipline, study, or activity."
(MB) Rather inexact and generic. Science is a collective name for the disciplines which advance and verify our knowledge of facts, phenomena, laws and causes by using observation, experiment, and analysis of both empirical and logical evidence.
(R) Evolution -"Species change into others, given: time, chance, mutation, and natural selection."
(MB) Nope. Evolution is simply a change in gene frequency in a population. These changes result in offspring being different from their parents. Some of these differences will convey survival advantages, others will be harmful, and most will go unnoticed. Natural selection is a consequence of evolutionary change in that population members who possess advantageous modifications will be better able to survive and are more likely to produce more offspring. These offspring will inherit the advantages possessed by their parents and may be the beneficiaries of additional beneficial changes. As changes accumulate over time and generations, the end result will be a descendant that is no longer capable of successful reproduction with a member of the original population. At that point, speciation is said to have taken place.
Notice that the entire initial population does not suddenly and miraculously transform into the new species (as Creationists think should happen). It is only the descendants of the originally changed members who give rise to the new species. This also means that the old species does not die out immediately upon the rise of the new species. They can still coexist quite nicely until competition for food and other necessities means that only the advantaged group will survive and the old species will die out.
(R) The fossil record does not document a single morphological transition of one species into another.
(MB) If you knew what a "morphological transition" was (or, for that matter, what "evolution" and "speciation" are), you wouldn't be too surprised at this. Speciation is not morphological change and morphological change is not speciation. A morphological change is nothing more than offspring being different from their parents. Are you a different height or weight, body shape, eye or hair color or skin tone from your parents? If so, those are examples of morphological changes. A better synonym for "morphological change" would be "variation". But, evolution *is* variation.
(R) This was one of the fundamental reasons that Gould concocted "punctuated equilibrium", "mosaic evolution", and "stablizing" selection." These theories are untestable and unobervable, therefore, they are science-fiction.
(MB) Absolutely wrong. Punctuated equilibrium was advanced to correct the inadequacies in gradualism. Select the provided link to read a thorough explanation of this theory.
[Read about Punctuated Equilibrium]
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) First, you make blanket statements all the time.
(MB) Wrong. I state generally-accepted facts, not unsupported personal opinions or meaningless generalities.
(R) Second, I am arguing about things I have studied for sometime now.
(MB) Oh? How long have you been studying? The fact that, after all your study, you still don't even know the definitions of "evolution" or "science" would suggest that this study hasn't been very assiduous.
(R) You are hypocritical because you are parroting evolutionist arguments yourself,
(MB) So, you agree that you are merely copying your arguments? In my case, I take advantage of the available research to verify facts and details, but I put arguments in my own words and fully understand what I'm saying. How is this being "hypocritical" in any way?
(R) ...since I assume that you have not done your own first rate primary research for these "facts" you are ignorantly touting.
(MB) I don't have to be Isaac Newton to competently discuss and understand gravity. Why should I have to be Darwin or Gould to do the same for evolution? If you believe your own argument, you must apply it to yourself as well. Should one just blow off everything you say simply because you are not Morris or Gish (or one of the 12 disciples, for that matter)?
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) Reality is simple. The fossil record shows stasis and the few forms that are used to support evolutionary change are riddled with ambiguity and evolutionary assumption.
(MB) Reality *is* simple. Too bad you continue to ignore it. If the fossil record showed "stasis", that would mean that there have been no changes at all since life first appeared. Since even the Creationists don't believe that, you will find no support whatsoever for such a claim. Perhaps you could give an example or three of the ambiguous and assumption-ridden "few forms" of which you speak and explain your problems with them.
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) What arguments? I am simply stating facts.
(MB) No, as I have already shown, you are merely copying from a Creationist web site and likely don't even understand what is being copied.
(R) I only use creationist writings to glean the substantive quotes of scientists before evolutionary embellishment and revisions take place.
(MB) *giggle* Why would you think that it's better to use the second-hand reports in Creationist writings than to refer to the original books and papers of the quoted author? Certainly, the original could not have been changed in any way.
So far, your "beliefs" seem to amount to little more than plagiarism without explanation. This is hardly "complex".
(R) So far, your arrogance and hypocrisy is incredible.
(MB) Am I arrogant and/or hypocritical for asking you to provide details and examples on your points of dispute and about your own beliefs rather than just accepting the standard rhetoric and spin-doctoring of Creationism?
(R) I haven't even begun to state my beliefs and you feel fine jumping to conclusions. But wait, you're an evolutionist, thats what you do best!
(MB) I've given you many opportunities to present your beliefs and you have seemed reluctant or unwilling to do so -- preferring instead to take wild swipes at science and evolution. But wait, you're a Creationist. That's what you do best!
You've already stated what you don't believe (i.e., anything that even comes within a hundred miles of evolution). I think it's time for you to start laying out the case and the evidence for what you *do* believe. After all, if you dispute evolution as the answer to how life got the way it is, you must have some alternative explanation to account for it. What is it and why is it superior?
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) I disagree with creationists in regards to the age of the earth, ...
(MB) How? Also, which group of creationists do you disagree with? There's the "young earth" crowd which posits a 6,000 year old Earth and the "old Earth" crowd which tends to accept the realities of geological evidence. Which (if either) do you agree with and why is the other wrong?
(R) ...the interpretation of Genesis 1, ...
(MB) Please go into more detail here. Also, what about the second and contradictory creation tale in the second chapter of Genesis?
(R) ...and I disregard many of their non-arguments to support a literal interpretation of the Bible.
(MB) Please give examples of some of these (non-)arguments. Are you a Biblical literalist and/or inerrantist yourself?
(R) I agree only in part with evolutionary theory in regard to taxonomy and certain precepts of natural selection.
(MB) Again, this will require more details. What appeals to you about taxonomy that precludes an evolutionary explanation? How can you agree with anything about natural selection while still disputing evolution? After all, natural selection can't happen *without* evolution.
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.?
(R) That is patently false and has been dismissed by most historians.
(MB) Oh, really? Which "historians" are these? Can you refer me to any of their books? If you are correct, this would certainly be a revolution in historical scholarship.
Also, there is the small problem of there being absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any notion that their beliefs are *not* pure mythology.
(R) I'll answer your blanket statement with a blanket statement:
(MB) Why not answer it with specific facts that would demonstrate that it is incorrect? After all, showing just one such fact would prove me to be wrong. Are you up to it?
(R) There is no empirical evidence that supports the notion that what the ancient Hebrews believed *was* mythology.
(MB) Since you choose to advance the logical fallacy of demanding proof of non-existence rather than presenting any evidence of your own, I can safely conclude that you have no such evidence to present. As a parallel example, if you choose to advance the positive existential claim that a boogeyman is hiding under your bed, the burden of proof is on you to support that claim. You can't support it merely by saying that a skeptic can't prove that the boogeyman *isn't* there. Therefore, if you choose to claim that the Hebrews believed in something real, the burden of proof is on you to produce the relevant facts in support of that claim. Until then, the skeptical position is the stronger of the two.
Just because a belief is old is no indication that it is true.
(R) Did I say this?
(MB) Why else try to support it by emphasizing that Hebrew beliefs are 4000 years old?
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.
(R) Yes. And thats why the proposition of evolution is false.
(MB) Regardless of whether or not you believe, accept, or understand the evidence which supports evolution, it can't be claimed that no evidence exists. Therefore, a blanket rejection of evolution on the basis that "no evidence exists" is demonstrably illogical. Now, if you can demonstrate why every bit of the available evidence is wrong or has been misinterpreted, you can make a case for disputing evolution. Of course, to do this will require dismantling the majority of biology, chemistry, paleontology, geology, zoology, countless experiments and observations and the scientific method in general. This doesn't even begin to address the additional requirement that you provide and support an alternative that is a better explanation for what we have observed. I am quite certain that the Nobel Prize committee will reward you handsomely should you accomplish this. I'm also quite certain that buying a ticket to Scandinavia at this point would be somewhat premature.
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) These were blanket stigmas you attached to science and religion.
(MB) My statements were: "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." These are not "blanket stigmas". They are, respectively, short definitions of the scientific method and blind faith. Please support (in detail) your assertions that neither science nor religion works in these ways.
(R) There are instances of this stigmata in only isolated cases.
(MB) Please detail some of these "isolated cases".
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.
(R) First of all, I have never read a book by Duane Gish and I am only vaguely familiar with him.
(MB) Even if I believed that, the fact remains that the web site you use as a major reference cites Gish's work as *its* major reference. Gish's old ideas are also echoed by modern Creationist authors. Almost any argument against the fossil record either originated with Gish or has been amplified by him.
(R) Second, you are the one who keeps making blanket statements like "but the evidence is there," and then give no detail or example.
(MB) It's difficult to provide specifics when you rarely say what exactly it is that you are disputing. You say that you disagree with "evolution" but don't seem to understand the meaning of the term or what does and does not fall within the scope of the theory. If you provide relevant specifics, I will address them.
Furthermore, when you ask where the evidence is, the answer "the fossil record" *is* giving you an example. Again, you may choose to dispute it, but since a fossil is a physical thing that you can examine, you can't simply say that it "doesn't exist".
Any attempt to disavow it [the fossil record] will require details as to why it is wrong and how it actually supports the Creationist's views.
(R) I agree that it requires detail as to why evolution is wrong, ...
(MB) So, where are the details? If you're so sure that evolution is wrong, there must be *some* details around to support that notion.
(R) ...but I disagree that it must be done in order to support another theory.
(MB) This is not correct. If one theory of science is overturned, it is replaced by another theory of science. After all, the data and observations which were addressed by the original theory still exist and still demand a coherent explanation. Without an alternative that better explains those data and observations, tearing down a generally-accepted theory is mighty difficult. On the other hand, if a proposed alternative is demonstrably superior, the old theory will be immediately abandoned.
Gould's theory would not have been advanced and would not have received global acceptance if it was not derived from available evidence.
(R) What is the evidence of punctuated equilibrium?
(MB) I've already provided one link for you. Perhaps, you'd like to read more on the subject.
[Read more about Punctuated Equilibrium]
(R) I am asking for empirical, unambiguous, and objective evidence not a bunch of theoretical psycho-babble. (I don't want a theoretical *explanation*. I want hard evidence.)
(MB) What sort of evidence would satisfy your standards? Why is it that you don't apply the same rigorous standards to your own beliefs?
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) Right, just as long as those who "wish to test the theory's vality" are not creationists. If they're "Creationists" by golly, they will be ostracized by people like you.
(MB) Not if their research is sound and their results are valid. The worth of a theory is not determined by who advances it, but by the quality of the scholarship that goes into producing it. Creationists are ostracized since they have never provided so much as one single argument against evolution or in favor of the religious alternative that has ever withstood scrutiny despite several decades of intensive efforts, yet they continue to hang onto all of their arguments as if they were bedrock facts.
What were you before you became a Christian?
(R) I wasn't anything. I was a skeptic of religion in general. I had been brought up in a pseudo-Christian cult (Jehovah's Witnesses) that ended up causing me a great deal of doubt and skepticism.
(MB) Congratulations on getting away. I'm curious, however, as to how the JWs can be labeled as "pseudo-Christian". Could you explain?
Does becoming a Christian automatically mean that you must be against evolution? Why?
(R) Thats a tough question. Some believe in "Theistic Evolution," but I don't know how they can reconcile it with the teachings of Christ.
(MB) How does the concept of theistic evolution have anything to do with the teachings of Christ? Theistic evolution just says that God is the agent of creation, but that life has progressed and developed in an evolutionary manner after he created it.
(R) I tend to believe that it is a contradiction in terms since Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as historical people, not metaphors.
(MB) The concept of Adam and Eve has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution in either its secular or theistic versions. In addition, since Jesus never mentions Adam or Eve by name at any point in any of the Gospels, how can you find any contradiction?
(R) But it was not my conversion to Christianity that caused me to reject evolution. I have rejected evolution on the basis of empirical evidence. (or lack thereof)
(MB) So, what caused your conversion to Christianity? Certainly, there's no empirical evidence to support its doctrines.
Explain why the Pope believes in evolution. Isn't he a Christian?
(R) The papacy is fallible and I do not consider the Pope to be much of an authority on religion, or science. He is simply a Catholic icon.
(MB) I think there's about a billion Catholics worldwide that would have other ideas about that.
(R) I haven't heard that he "believes" in evolution, as much as I have heard that he is "open to consider" evolution as a theory.
(MB) The Pope accepts evolution from the theistic perspective with the proviso that the special creation of Man must still be accepted.
(R) I don't no if the Pope is true Christian or not.
(MB) Oh, boy! Here's a real can of worms. I think you need to define and support "true Christian" and explain why the Pope may not qualify.