REPLY #28b 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 second 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.
Why do you believe that evolution and Christianity are incompatible? Science doesn't believe this.
(R) Evolution is one of the most bloody, cruel, nasty, and downright evil processes to ever exist *if* it were true. You are talking about a theory in which the weakest among us are terminated cruelly and then replaced. It is a theory that is ruled by death, extinction, and obsolescence. If one wants to believe in evolution; fine, just don't blame God for it.
(MB) I think you've missed a show-stopper of a point here. Let's assume that evolution is conclusively disproved and that the Christian God is accepted as the reason why everything is the way it is. What will have changed on Earth? Won't living things still die? Won't they still use each other for food? Won't the strong still survive longer while the weak die sooner? Won't snakes still kill their prey by such cruel methods as constriction and poisoning? Won't lions still kill their prey by burying their teeth into their victim's neck and hanging on until it slowly asphyxiates or bleeds to death? Won't humans still suffer from all make and manner of diseases and depredations caused by precisely-adapted microbes and other small creatures?
If evolution is "bloody, cruel, and nasty" for having brought about all these things, you're going to have to explain why your God isn't equally as bloody, cruel, and nasty for deliberately creating those same things. In fact, since he created those things deliberately while evolution would have produced them by chance, you are going to have to explain why your God shouldn't be considered to be *more* evil than evolution.
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?
(R) Christianity is faith *built upon* reputable facts. The evidences come from a large array of sources, such as history, archeology, the science of statistical propability, predictive prophecy, the deduction model, legal evidences, among many others.
(MB) The only "facts" upon which Christianity is built are the stories written in the Bible. There is no physical or extra-Biblical evidence to support any part of Christian dogma. Please give examples of what you think *does* support the existence and divinity of Jesus. Quoting the Bible is not sufficient as that would be using circular reasoning.
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 might consider the the special creation of man to be a "saltation."
(MB) Isn't that the very nature of the special creation of Man? Even at that, a saltation more properly refers to a new species that arises suddenly and not one that has no ancestor. Since special creation proposes that Man has no ancestor, I don't think that it is proper to call that a saltation.
(R) However, I think Christian fundamentalists would not embrace evolution, regardless of whether or not it supported the special creation of man. The theory of evolution is rejected because it is simple false.
(MB) This is clearly not the case since Creationists accept the basic premise of evolution -- that offspring are different from their parents. If evolution is "false", offspring would be identical to their parents. More properly, what Creationists really object to is "speciation". However, some reptiles evolving into birds is no problem for the Bible, so that is not the real driving force behind their arguments. Their biggest headache is evolution's prediction that Man also evolved from an ancestral species. Needless to say, that *does* present major problems for the Biblical account.
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) The quotes I gave you were not "misquotes." I know its convienent for you to allege this.
(MB) There's no "alleging" or "convenience" involved. It has already been demonstrated that these quotes are either out-of-context or incomplete. Want some more examples?
[More Creationist misquotes]
(R) However, the statements are quite clear and need no revision by you or anyone else who would like to cover up the facts.
(MB) As already demonstrated, it is only the Creationists who are doing the revising and the covering-up. This is to disguise their own total lack of sufficient supporting facts for their own ideas.
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.
(R) I have read what they really say. I know what they know for fact, and what they don't know for fact.
(MB) How? All you've done is copy selected excerpts from a Creationist web site. How do you check the validity of those excerpts? Want more examples of Creationist misquoting in action?
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) I define "dynamic" as genetical variation around a set of basic designs.
(MB) If so, then why do you set limits as to how far that this variation can go or on what it could eventually produce? And, this still wouldn't explain why there are so many extinct species that are only known from the fossil record and why there are so many current species for which there are either no fossils at all or for which the only fossil examples are very young. If evolution didn't cause this, then you are going to have to support the notion of there having been multiple creation events.
(R) If you define "dynamic" as the "natural process" that supposedly was able to transform dead matter into abiotic matter, abiotic matter to biotic matter, biotic matter into amino acids, amino acids into proteins, proteins into RNA/DNA strands, synthesized the strands blindly into coherent patterns, coherent patterns into microbial organisms, microbial organisms into prokaryote bacterial cells, prokaryote bacterial cells, into micro-organisms, etc, all the way up to plants, animals, and astronauts; - then you are a mythologist.
(MB) That's more or less exactly what one should consider a dynamic process and that's exactly what all the available evidence supports. To dispute this, you will have to attack each link in the chain and show precisely why it could not occur. How will you succeed in doing this when the arguments you will copy off that Creationist web site have already failed?
Let me suggest a couple of places where you could start. First, please define "life" and how "living matter" differs from "dead matter". I would also be interested in your explanation of the difference between "dead matter" and "abiotic matter" as well as the difference between "abiotic" matter and "biotic" matter.
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) No. Do you own a time machine?
(MB) Nope. The local Radio Shack doesn't yet carry them. But, I fail to see why this would be required. Perhaps you could explain?
(R) How old are you? 35? 45?
(MB) As of this writing, I'm 41. How old are you?
(R) I am assuming that you were not around 600 million years ago to document the earth's existence.
(MB) That is a reasonable assumption even if it is totally unnecessary. Can I not examine the evidence contained within the rocks that *were* around at that time?
(R) I don't believe that the earth is 6,000 years-old. I think its somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 years-old or so. But this is irrelevant.
(MB) On the contrary, the age of the Earth is very relevant to any discussion about evolution. Creationists wish to prove that the Earth is young since that would provide a conclusive disproof of a major prediction of evolution.
On what basis do you believe that the Earth is only 500K years old? That number rings a bell as one of the beliefs of the followers of Zecharia Sitchin. Are you one of them? If not, I'd like to know where that number comes from.
(R) Can you please explain to me how non-living matter ever became living matter?
(MB) Perhaps this link will provide sufficient information.
[Intro to Biology]
(R) Can you please demonstrate that the hypothetical pre-biotic soup and the idea of "cumulative" selection was *not* spoiled by the fact that organic compounds produced on the early earth would have been subject to chemical reactions making them unsuitable for constructing life?
(MB) Experiments have shown that when polymerized amino acids come into contact with water, they form proteinoid microspheres which contain a double-layered, electrically active surface similar to a membrane. This surface protects the compounds within the microsphere from coming into contact with other compounds that would destroy them. Creationist argument focuses solely on the compounds involved and conveniently forgets about the protective surface of the microspheres.
(R) Can you please show me a demonstration of abiotic matter becomin biotic matter?
(MB) I will do so upon receipt of your definitions and differentiation of "abiotic" and "biotic" matter.
Dawkins is not siding with the Creationists.
(R) Did I say he was?
(MB) In effect, you did when you presented the quote and claimed that it refutes evolution.
In fact, he is one of the more vocal anti-Creationists.
(R) No duh, I read his articles in "Free Inquiry" all the time and own a few of his books.
(MB) If so, how can you claim that he disputes evolution?
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) I disagree. We have hard evidence here of life forms that have no evolutionary explanation, and that in itself, is evidence against the "natural process" of evolution, because it suggests there is an alternative process or event that caused the Cambrian explosion.
(MB) You're mixing two different arguments here. The cause of the Cambrian explosion is not the same as its effects. You're also quite wrong when you claim that the newly-appearing species have no evolutionary explanation. Multicellular organisms arose from an aggregation of unicellular organisms.
Here's another famous contextual misquote.
(R) No its not. The statement is simple. "The fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another." What language do we speak here? Its there in plain English. Either the statement is true, or it is false.
(MB) We speak English, but you have left out an important English word in your misquote. That word is "overlap". What you left out of the context of the quote was the point that Stanley was actually making. That is that species ancestors overlap with their descendants rather than ancestors suddenly and totally becoming a new species. The fossil record supports overlap and does not support the sudden transition of one species into another. So, Stanley's statement is true, but one must consider the entirety of what he was saying. Failure to do so is how Creationists can change the meaning of what are otherwise true statements.
[Further evidence of the intellectual dishonesty of Creationists]
When speciation occurs, the old species do not suddenly "vanish" as the new ones arise. That old buzzard is another Gishism.
(R) What is a Gishism? Is that some kind of transitional form?
(MB) In a manner of speaking, I suppose. A Gishism would be a transitional form between reality and Creationism.
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.
(R) I don't know what you are talking about. His statement was about
transitions being non-existent.
(MB) As I've already stated, the carefully selected portion that you quoted contained those words, but that's hardly what the entirety of his statement was about.
(R) All you did is rehash a bunch of evolutionary theory that I am already familiar with.
(MB) So far, all you've demonstrated is that you've read and copied some Creationist arguments against evolution.
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) Even if species overlap, their bones do not tell us whether or not they possessed the ability to procreate with their alleged ancestor. The evolutionary relationship is assumed.
(MB) You're mixing apples and oranges again. Related species do not necessarily lose the ability to procreate with each other. Also, the inability to procreate is not the only delineating factor between species.
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) Species *do not* change fundamentally, therefore, they do not evolve into a new species.
(MB) Now, I think you need to define your understanding of "fundamental change" and why species cannot undergo such changes.
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".
(R) Oh it has? Please by all means, show me a modern example of a random mutation in the regulatory gene that altered the embryonic development of an organism sufficiently enough to form a new species within a few generations. Give me the evidence and I'll disassemble it.
(MB) You're asking another Gishism. He says that we should expect to find evidence, for example, of a reptile laying an egg and a bird emerging. Then, when he points out the fact that we have not found any such evidence, he considers that to be conclusive proof against evolution. Of course, the fact that evolution doesn't claim that any such thing actually happened is completely ignored. Why don't you try disassembling Gish's illogic instead? Or, perhaps you'd rather read a bit about speciation?
[Read about speciation]
This is hardly "philosophical dogma". The supporting evidence is overwhelming and can lead to no other conclusions.
(R) Where is the evidence?
(MB) You claim to have many books by evolutionists. Have you actually read any of them? If so, how can you ask your question without demonstrating a serious case of denial?
(R) Show me how even a simple protein molecule could form by chance?
(MB) You claim to have read this, but maybe you'd like to have another, more thorough look at it:
[Read about abiogenesis]
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.
(R) Did I postulate this? I don't recall doing such.
(MB) You said that the natural processes of evolution "are the almighty power that can change bacterium into man". Are you now willing to agree that Man is *not* the inevitable end product of evolution?
In fact, evolution says that if the process began anew,
(R) What process? Were you around 2 billion years ago to document the fact
that such natural processes existed?
(MB) Nope. I'm around now to witness the results of those processes and to examine the evidence left behind by them. Is there any reason to suspect that the evolutionary scenario is wrong?
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".
(R) The improbability is great enough that my assumption "it didn't happen by chance/natural process" is stronger than your assumption that "it did happen by chance/natural process."
(MB) High improbabilities prove nothing by themselves. It can easily be proven that a great many quite normal things are results of the "beating" of very long odds. For example, shuffle a fair deck of cards and deal out a four-player hand of bridge and examine the resulting hands. The odds against that exact deal are so long that, by your logic, it couldn't have happened by chance. Yet, there the cards are!
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.
(R) ...And so the fairy tale goes...(you're just rehashing and borrowing other people's ideas and material)
(MB) Why don't you offer some specific points of dispute with the fact that Homo sapiens is an evolutionary accident instead of just brushing aside the entire scenario?