Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized 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.

(R) (Since I didn't have the time or patience to deal with all of your rantings and ravings, I selected only the more substantive of your responses to reply to.)
(MB) Translation: "Since you've said so much that I can't refute, and since no real Christian fundamentalist would ever admit to being wrong about evolution or anything related to it, I will just dismiss everything I can't handle as mere 'rantings and ravings' so that I can avoid having to deal with them. I will then go on to continue to preach the same, unsupported party line in response to a few other carefully-selected quotes."
    Let's face the facts here. If you had any real evidence or arguments to offer, you would take great pains to trot them out in minute detail. If you had actually read any of the books you claim to own, you would not be offering up the exact same quotations (with the exact same omissions and alterations) that are published in Creationist materials and would not be ignorant of the context of those quotes. If you actually understood anything about the objections that you are copying from those same materials, you wouldn't have so much trouble when asked to define terms or explain the problems they claim to present. If you actually understood the science that you want to dispute, you would be able to argue against it with something more substantive than calling it "psycho-babble". There are many other basic logic fallacies in your arguments that will be addressed as they occur.
    Finally, I will be including many key questions and rebuttals from my previous response that you did not answer or respond to this time. You claim to have left out many things since they were "rantings and ravings" or were otherwise insubstantive. I think that a little refresher will demonstrate otherwise and will drive home the point that it is very unlikely that you have any real understanding of what you are complaining about. These flashbacks will receive the headings "QUESTION(S) REMAINING UNANSWERED" and "ANSWER(S) REMAINING UNQUESTIONED" as appropriate.
    On to your latest response -- which starts (not surprisingly) with an omission...

  • I asked for your definitions of "evolution" and "science" along with an analysis of how they are in conflict. That analysis has yet to be produced.
Evolution is simply a change in gene frequency in a population. These changes result in offspring being different from their parents.
(R) This is the problem with evolutionary terminology. "Evolution" is such an elusive term that it can have different meanings depending on the issue at point. However, according to this particularly ambiguous definition, I would call myself an "evolutionist."
(MB) What's "ambiguous" about the definition of evolution? Your problem is in your insistence upon incorporating the effects of evolution into its definition. This is why many of your arguments against "evolution" are misdirected. And, of course, there is the following unresolved problem...

  • You left out the much longer description that followed the two sentences which you called "ambiguous" and which conclusively showed your understanding of the meaning of evolution to be woefully lacking.
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 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) It depends on what your definition of "different" entails.
(MB) How? If two things are "different", that means that they are not identical. It's not a matter of degree.

(R) Sure I would agree that slight genetic differences have occurred within the bounds of genetical variations of a given species.
(MB) Then, since that is the definition of "evolution" and since you have just agreed that it happens, how can you possibly dispute evolution and call it "psycho-babble" or "nothing but the philosophy of naturalism"? It's clear that you want to argue against something, but you're not really sure what it is.

(R) But the argument is over what these limitations are, or how far these changes can go.
(MB) If there are limitations to evolution, that would imply that there is a point where offspring could no longer be different from their parents and, therefore, that all future generations would be identical. Since there are no examples of where this has ever happened and no evidence to support the idea that it ever *could* happen, any speculations which require limits to evolutionary change are groundless.

(R) Darwinism postulates two basic elements that make this all possible. The first is called "variation," or "mutation," and the second of course, is called natural selection, or better termed, "Darwinian" natural selection.
(MB) I can see that we can add "natural selection" to the growing list of things that you don't understand. Natural selection is the theory that living things must compete for limited resources and that the creatures which are better able to gain or utilize those resources will be more likely to survive and will produce more offspring while the less-capable creatures will be less likely to survive and will either die out entirely or will be reduced to minor, isolated populations in the ecosystem.

(R) Darwinists have attempted to prove evolution through many experiments that have involved fruitflies. They have produced nothing but fruitflies.
(MB) "Fruit flies" are a genus (Drosophila). That genus contains many different species. Since variation between individual generations has been proven, the existence of evolution has been proven. Since accumulations of these variations has resulted in the divergence of new species from the original population, speciation has been proven. So, what's your problem with the fruit fly experiments? They prove the existence of what you claim to be nothing more than "philosophy".

(R) Darwinists have attempted many times to produce "speciation," or the production of a new species, using artificial selection. But what artificial selection actually shows is that there are definite limits to the amount of variation that even the most highly skilled breeders can achieve.
(MB) How has this been shown except in the obvious case of differences between one generation and its immediate descendant? This is no proof whatsoever that there are any limits to accumulated variation over numerous generations.

(R) French zoologist Pierre Grasse` concluded that the results of artificial selection provide powerful testimony against Darwin's theory:
(MB) This is wonderful! In the last response, I provided a link that demonstrates how Creationists take Grasse out-of-context in order to make one of their arguments. Now, you are attempting to make an argument by doing exactly what I've already shown to be intellectual dishonesty. This is more proof that you just copy things from Creationist materials without understanding them and that you'll keep regurgitating the same old nonsense even after it has been refuted.

(R) "In spite of the intense pressure generated by artificial selection (eliminating any parent not answering the criteria of choice) over whole millennia, no new species are born. A comparative study of sera, hemoglobins, blood proteins, interfertility, etc., proves that the strains remain within the same specific definition. This is not a matter of opinion or subjective classification, but a measurable reality. The fact is that selection gives tangible form to, and gathers together all the varieties a genome is capable of producing, but does not constitute an innovative evolutionary process."
    In other words, the reason that pigs don't become as big as hippos, much less change into hippos, is not because we haven't been breeding them long enough. Pigs do not have the genetic capacity for that degree of change, and they stop getting bigger when the genetic limit has been exhausted.

(MB) This couldn't be any more wrong. There is no genetic reason why pigs couldn't be as big as hippos (or any other size). However, the basic anatomy and physiognomy of a pig would likely not allow it to live and produce offspring if its body was dramatically larger than that of either of its parents. On the other hand, it is clear that selective breeding of pigs and other farm animals has resulted in varieties that have steadily increased in size over time. There is no reason to believe that such a breeding program could not continue to produce additional size gains over even longer periods of time. If you were to compare the latest generation with the original stock, you would see a dramatic difference. This difference did not occur in one generation (as the Creationists demand), but has been averaged out over the numerous generations between the original stock and current generation (as evolution and natural selection predict).

(R) Darwinists attribute the inability to produce new species to a lack of sufficient time. Lack of time would be a valid excuse if there were no other known factors limiting the change that can be produced through selection. But after a certain number of generations, the capacity for variation runs out.
(MB) You will have to demonstrate what would bring the process of variation to a halt. As I've already said, there are no examples to support such a claim and no evidence to suggest that the process could ever come to a halt. If you can't provide concrete examples and demonstrations, then the "limits to variation" argument is groundless.

  • A refutation of your claims about Punctuated Equilibrium along with a related link to further reading went completely unanswered. I guess that settles that particular issue.
I state generally-accepted facts, not unsupported personal opinions or meaningless generalities.
(R) First, much of what you state as "fact" is not fact at all.
(MB) You have yet to demonstrate even one single example of this. Resorting to incorrect definitions of terms, invalid demands for what must be included within each, insufficient understanding of basic principles, inability to provide concrete examples to illustrate points of dispute and the spouting of dishonest quotations won't get the job done.

(R) Much of what you state is adamant adherence to a blind-faith in the evolutionary explanations of biology.
(MB) All of what I state is verifiable through numerous sources -- many of which are available on the Internet. I have provided links to relevant Internet resources so that you (and interested readers) can examine them directly without having to take my word for what they say. "Blind faith" is belief without facts. Since I have provided you with access to relevant facts, you cannot claim that what I say is nothing more than blind faith.

  • "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."
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) In your case, you take advantage of the latest available theoretical psycho-babble and call it "facts."
(MB) On what basis do you call scholarly research papers "psycho-babble"? Perhaps you need to define what "psycho-babble" means and why these papers qualify as being such.
    It should also be noted that you did not answer either of the two questions I asked in your detour into insulting the scientific literature. I can only assume that the points advanced by those questions are valid and that your arguments are nothing more than copied material that you really don't understand.

  • "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)?"
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.
(R) Here's reality and my definition of stasis: 1. Stasis: Most species exhibit no *directional* change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually extremely limited and completely directionless.
(MB) You are confusing the fact that evolution is not a directed process with the mistaken notion that this must mean that no changes could *ever* happen. Also, you are now changing your story. First, you tried to claim that changes don't happen. Now, you agree that it does, but claim that it is "limited" (as has already been addressed). Again, this shows that you really don't understand what you're trying to argue.
    In addition, your argument is ignorant of the definition of "speciation". An individual species can't change to a great degree and still remain the same species. So, while you are correct in stating that the fossil record of an individual species exhibits little change, you conveniently leave out the fact that large changes will result in a *new* species appearing.
    Finally, it should be noted that you did not provide the requested examples of "ambiguous and assumption-ridden" speciation events nor any details about your problems with them. I can only assume that you don't really have any to offer.

  • "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?"
  • "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?"
  • "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, 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) I would fall into the "old-earth" camp.
(MB) Not if you hold that the Earth is 500,000 years old (as stated in your previous response). Old Earth Creationists accept an age for the Earth in the billions of years as is shown by the geological evidence.
    You chose not even to quote or respond to the question I asked about why you believe that the Earth is only 500,000 years old and whether or not you are a follower of Zechariah Sitchin (since that is the group which posits such an age for the Earth). Can you explain the rationale for your 500,000 year figure?

(R) Young-earth Creationists have a faulty hermeneutical line of interpretation in Gen. 1.
(MB) I would agree entirely. Of course, they have many more faulty arguments from other portions of Genesis, as well.

Please go into more detail here [about the interpretation of Genesis 1]. Also, what about the second and contradictory creation tale in the second chapter of Genesis?
(R) What? Do you consider yourself to be a biblical scholar as well?
(MB) Did you figure you could slide your argument from Genesis by me without being called out on it?
    To answer your question, I have made a detailed study of the Bible as an exercise in scholarship over the past three decades or so and am well-versed in its problems. I wouldn't be so immodest as to call myself a professional Biblical scholar, but I do know much more about it than well over 90% of those who base their lives on what they think is contained within its pages.

(R) Genesis Ch.1 does not contradict chapter 2 since chapter 1 is a chronological account while chapter 2 is merely an outline. If both chapters were chronological or both were outlines, then there would be a contradiction. But this is not the case.
(MB) Add one more person to the uninformed 90%+ of believers, I guess. Both stories are chronological and neither can be called much more than an outline of what happened. Among other problems, Chapter 1 places the creation of Man after the creation of all other creatures while Chapter 2 places the creation of Man *before* the creation of all other creatures. Since it is obviously impossible for both of these accounts to be true, there is a clear contradiction.

  • "Please give examples of some of these (non-)arguments [used to support a literal interpretation of the Bible]. Are you a Biblical literalist and/or inerrantist yourself?"
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.
(R) I never have disputed natural selection. I simply differ with you on how much power natural selection has on the variations of morphology and/or genetical variation, and by virtue of that difference, I don't equate natural selection with "evolution."
(MB) Yeah, you don't dispute natural selection. You just dispute anything and everything that natural selection would produce. Evolution and natural selection are not synonymous terms. Evolution produces changes in a population. Natural selection determines which changes lead to variations that will be better able to survive and further diversify and which will lead to dead ends.

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