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).

NOTE: This response is a continuation of a discussion which began in Reply #74 to Religion. I have taken the parts which pertain to Evolution vs. Creationism and moved them here. The rest of the response which deals with religion can be read in Reply #77 to Religion.

(R) It is amazing how somebady who can rationally put ideas out there, as clearly and consily as you seem to be able to are unable to read anything with an open mind.
(MB) If I had a dollar for every time a believer told a skeptic that he needs to "read with an open mind", I'd be a very rich man, indeed. What makes this funny is that this admonition comes from people whose entire worldview is contained within the pages of a single book and anything which comes from outside that book or is at odds with that book is not even considered. Yet, they say that it is all others who need to have "open minds". Sorry, but that just doesn't wash.

Why must these artificial restrictions be applied? Why must evolution always result in something that Man might consider to be an obvious and dramatic "improvement"? Why is it invalid for Man to accelerate a natural process? Why can evolution not be accepted at any level below that of phylum? What about the class, order, family, genus, or species levels? Since neither fishes nor dogs are a phylum, I think you have your taxonomy a bit confused here. This is a basic problem with most pro-Creationist argument.
(R) I asked 2 major question. 1st show me proof of evolution. I gave 3 requirements. [See Reply #74 to Religion for the referenced questions] So, in other words, you cannot show any proof?
(MB) Of course I can. However, you can't just redefine evolution in any convoluted and invalid way you wish and then say "Prove it". That is the tactic made famous by Duane Gish. That's why I asked for supporting explanations for those questions. As far as your explanations go......

(R) These artificial restrictions, are not artificial they are exactly what evolutionist say must happen.
(MB) No, they are not. Evolution does not demand "improvement" or complexification in any lineage. Indeed, there is considerable evidence of speciation which has resulted in simpler, less complex forms. Evolution is a random process and not one that is either progressive or goal-oriented.

(R) But did you answer the question? No, you did not, you go onto agrue that fish nor dogs are phylum, while I never said they where... I just asked for proof on the phylum level.
(MB) To which you cited fish and dogs as examples. In any case, evolution does not occur at any level higher than species. All higher taxonomical classifications are arbitrary groupings based upon shared characteristics of the species which comprise them. That's why it is invalid to demand proof that one phylum can evolve into another. It simply doesn't work that way despite Creationist obfuscations to the contrary.
    In addition, I think there is some confusion over just what you are trying to dispute. Creationists love to misuse the word "evolution" and try to make it apply to every single part of what is, in reality, a large and interconnected set of theories and processes. "Evolution" itself is nothing more than a change in gene frequencies in a population over time. The fact that this happens is easily proven by a simple understanding that all offspring of all species are different from their parents. Since no reasonable person would argue otherwise, to say that one believes that "evolution is false and unproven" is to show that one really doesn't understand what he is saying. More than likely, the Creationist should really be taking issue with one particular part of the combined set of theories that goes by the common, if somewhat antiquated, label of "Darwinism". Such parts would include descent with modification, natural selection, punctuated equilibrium, speciation, DNA replication, mutation, and so on.

(R) Why must it be an improvement? Well, if we can from less developed, less able to survive, improvement is a requirement for evolution. (Don't argue, here on how cockroaches can survive more than man.)
(MB) There's no need for that. Evolution is a random process in which offspring have an equal chance of being either more or less complex than their ancestors. However, there is a lower limit to complexity beyond which life cannot be maintained. On the other hand, there is no known upper limit for complexity. Therefore, in any random system where the spread of results is limited in one direction and unlimited in the other, you will see a gradual widening of results in the unlimited direction. However, it must be understood, in the case of life on Earth, that the overwhelming majority of living things reside at the lower end of the complexity scale. In fact, the balance is so heavily skewed in that direction that all other life forms combined can only account for the most minor fraction of species and total organisms. This means that complexification is a rarity and an exception to the general rule rather than an inevitable trend. You may wish to read Steven J. Gould's "Full House" for more a more in-depth examination of this.

(R) Since you have been unable to prove evolution by giving me one example in the last thousand or so years, there is no fact in evolution only hypothesis.
(MB) First, whether or not I can prove evolution to you (remembering what "evolution" actually is) does not mean that there is, in fact, no such thing. You may be predisposed to not believing it no matter how strong the proof might be. Also, I might be incapable of presenting the proof that will ultimately convince you. If you have read some of the other responses in my "Evolution vs. Creationism" section, you will see several places where I have provided the examples you demand. What, to your mind, would qualify as a successful example?

(R) Your hypothesis say that someday, somehow, somewhere an ameoba type creature, will divid into something that is not an aomeba type creature. I want proof, not fossils, not well if we extrapulate this, or we think this happened. Show me.
(MB) Check the aforementioned examples and get back with me on this. Also, you might wish to familiarize yourself with modern research in the speciation of such organisms.

(R) Until, you show me, then you haven't proven a thing.
(MB) And, after I've shown you, then what? Will you believe or will you equivocate and demand other proofs ad infinitum? Perhaps not, but you must understand that I've been doing this for quite a long time and am very familiar with the tactics employed by Creationists and other believers. They've gone so far as to tell me "I don't care if you prove it. I *still* won't believe it. I believe in God." Needless to say, one other thing they don't understand is that God and evolution are not mutually-exclusive. The large majority of Xians understand this. Also, it should go without saying that the 2/3 of the world's population which is not Xian also has no problems with it.

(R) We are not products of random chance. Even self replicating random chance.
(MB) Why not? What would prevent that from being the case? Nothing in biology, to be sure.

(R) By the way if it was such a simple self replicating process, why haven't they been able to duplicate it in the lab, not enough time? There will never be enought time.
(MB) Why not? You are talking about compressing a nearly four billion year process into the relative blink of an eye in the laboratory. We don't yet have the technology to build molecular structures one atom at a time even though we can accurately describe how the process works. This is a variation of the old "God of the Gaps" argument in which anything that Man can't yet do is assumed to be something that is reserved for God. The problem here is that those "gaps" keep closing. Eventually, there may be none left. Where, then, will that leave your God?

(R) Take care, keep your page up, while you won't convince otherwise, without actual proof today. It has in the past made an interesting read.
(MB) It's my hope that it is still interesting and will remain an interesting read for as long as I can maintain it.

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