The circus is in town; the creationist calliope is wheezing away again

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There's a very good reason I reposted an old reply to a creationist today. It's from 2004, way back shortly after I'd started this blog, and it addresses in simple terms the question of how ordinary biological mechanisms can produce an increase in information. I brought it up because Casey Luskin is whining again. He says the "Darwinists" have not answered any of the questions Michael Egnor, their pet credentialed creationist du jour, has asked.

Yet for all their numbers and name-calling, not a single one has answered Egnor's question: How does Darwinian mechanisms [sic] produce new biological information?

Isn't it obvious that we have answered the question, repeatedly, for years and years? That the answer is plainly stated in any college-level genetics textbook you might be able to pull off the shelf? We answer, we repeat the answer, we rephrase the answer, we've got a whole damn chorus of biologically informed people singing the answer at them, and the creationists just babble back, obliviously, "We can't heeeeeeear youuuuu!"

Look, I've pointed out Luskin's own embarrassing incompetence at basic genetics before; there are mechanisms operating in genetics that make duplication of genes and the concommitant increase of information in the genome routine. I've traced the origin of bicoid and zerknüllt to a duplication of Hox3, for instance, and I've described how genes, such as Wnt, are found in gene families, the product of duplications over evolutionary history. I've shown how Hox genes arose by duplications; seriously, how can anyone look at the serial chain of Hox genes and their phylogenetic distribution, and the fact that vertebrates have 4 sets of Hox genes, and not recognize their source in gene duplication, and not see that as a change in complexity over evolutionary time? We can go further and look at synteny, or the conserved order of sequences in the genome, and see that there is an explicable pattern of change, one that is explained by common genetic and evolutionary processes, and does not fit the design hypothesis (except in the sense that the design hypothesis is so uselessly vague that you can make any observation fit it).

Luskin actually asks two questions.

…two questions remain: (1) Why is such name-calling so common among Darwinists? and (2) How do Darwinian mechanisms produce truly novel biological information? I've seen no good answers to question 2, and perhaps their lack of such a good answer is driving the observations behind question (1).

We've answered question #2 many, many times as I've mentioned. The creationists like Luskin, Egnor, and many others obtusely resist paying any attention, ignore the scientific literature, and act like stupid little children when they are confronted with the evidence … which, I think, goes a long way towards answering #1. That creationist calliope is awfully repetitive and out of tune, excuse us if we are more than a little tired of the noise. Maybe if they actually had some respect and knowledge of the biological sciences they are abusing, and if they didn't persist in lying and misrepresenting the facts, we wouldn't be so pissed off with them.

54 Comments

The idiots who mindlessly bleat about “Darwinism” accuse us of name-calling? Now that’s rich.

So this is what Lyin’ Luskin has been reduced to, eh?

“Guys guys guys check this out: Darwinists atheists conspirators eugenicists HITLER closed-minded cover-ups STALIN immoral child-corruptors POL POT stem-cell-abusing baby-eating HITLER HITLER HITLER and MORE HITLER!

“…

“Hey, those Darwinists just called us LIARS (after exposing our lies for the 800 millionth time)! WWAAAAAAHHHHHH watch me cry about it for ten more posts”

It’s the old Gish Gallop again. It is happening in our local newspaper also.

Ever since the 1970s, when Gish polished this technique, it hasn’t changed. Nor have the misconceptions. These have been extended into microbiology and the philosophy of science.

It’s deliberate; designed to incite and rally their armies of the night and to pique scientists. It is a real stretch to believe that they haven’t learned any science in nearly 40 years.

I now respond with some history of ID/Creationism and this particular tactic. I always direct people to the Wedge Document and the Kitzmiller trial documents.

As to their provocations to debate their “science”, I simply point out that if they were real scientists, they would be submitting all their claims to important scientific journals and being scientifically accountable rather than slinking around looking for rubes. Their most frequent response is to whine that they are being excluded by activist judges and a closed-minded scientific cabal. This is another mischaracterization of science that is part of the Gish Gallop.

There are some striking similarities in what these ID/Creationist are doing in response to being exposed and what our current administration is doing in response to being exposed as well. No doubt some of the same people are behind both.

Do you want to know why the general public is struggling with this and other issues like global warming? Personal insults, scare tactics and complete faith in unproven theories in order to secure funding seems to be the hallmarks of science these days. I’ve lived through too many “science” scams (“fossil” fuels, overpopulation, Y2K bug, bird flu etc…) in my life to put much faith in it any more. I’m not saying if Darwin is right or not but what I am saying is that the competition for funding has turned “science” into “The Jerry Springer Show”. You guys simply have no credibility anymore.

Personal insults, scare tactics and complete faith in unproven theories in order to secure funding seems to be the hallmarks of science these days.

And you’ve never heard “Personal insults, scare tactics and complete faith in unproven theories” coming from religion? I certainly have.

I’ve lived through too many “science” scams (“fossil” fuels, overpopulation, Y2K bug, bird flu etc…) in my life to put much faith in it any more.

How do “‘fossil’ fuels,” “overpopulation” and “bird flu” count as “scams?” Are you saying none of these things exist?

…the competition for funding has turned “science” into “The Jerry Springer Show”. You guys simply have no credibility anymore.

And where are you getting the information that gives you this impression?

…Y2K bug…

Do you have any evidence to suggest that there would not have been a Y2K crisis if no one had bothered to fix all of the potential problems? I didn’t think so. Fortunately, we’ll never know what could have been.

(I know, I know, don’t feed the…)

Please don’t call a media scam a science scam. The news feeds off fear for ratings. It doesn’t matter to them if its scientific or not.

For example Y2k has some very real potential issues: some legacy business systems would fail and some GPS hardware would give faulty locations.

It wasn’t the scientists or software programmers who started talking about system wide failures or power grids shutting down or planes falling from the sky.

J. C. says, (“fossil” fuels, overpopulation, Y2K bug, bird flu etc…).

Best guess, he thinks scientists tried to trick him into believing petroleum comes from fossils, you know, those rock things left behind by Noah’s flood. He knows you can’t get oil by grinding up all those millions of samples in museums.

Over population, I don’t know. A Jehovah’s Witness once explained to me that God wants as many souls as possible in Heaven, and that means humans must breed as fast as we can, no contraceptives, no homosexuality. The finite number of carbon molecules available on Earth was no challenge to him, just expand into space and populate the infinite universe with humans.

Y2K. The problem was real, I know because I wrote code like that myself. The hype and panic were a little overdone by the media and politicians, but they helped get the job done.

Bird flu is a significant probability, not a certainty in a short time frame. Unlike the religious fools who keep making a date with Jesus, only to be stood up over and over, scientists warn of the odds. Who knows, maybe those who don’t believe in vaccination or that microbes evolve resistance will be the cause of the next pandemic. Sooner or later there will be one unless, of course, scientists save their sorry asses with a new discovery.

And there he sits at his God designed computer with miraculously installed running water and electricity, bashing science. Ingrate.

Joe Creationist says:

I’ve lived through too many “science” scams (“fossil” fuels, overpopulation, Y2K bug, bird flu etc…) in my life to put much faith in it any more.

“fossil” fuels a science scam? Where have you been? We fought 1 war in Iraq already and have been fighting another one for 4 years now up to the present day. Iraq just happens to be a major oil producer in the middle east where much of the world’s oil is. Oil is $64/barrel, gasoline is $3.00/gallon. Just about everyone thinks oil is running out whether it is peak oil now or 20 years from now. US oil production peaked in the 1970s.

Bird flu scam? Tell that to the people in Asia. Millions of chickens have gotten it and been killed. This is an important part of the food supply for a population not exactly rich. Don’t tell it to the 150 people who died, it is too late. Worrying about bird flu now may make digging mass graves later unnecessary. Why is this a problem for you?

Y2K scam? Something to be said for identifying a problem and fixing it before rather than after the fact. Worked rather well this time.

HIV/AIDS scam? You didn’t mention this one but a few policy makers didn’t think it was important when it was identified in the early 1980s despite a few scientists screaming about a potential epidemic. Close to 1 million US citizens are infected with a lethal, treatable but not curable disease. Twenty million people die of it worldwide each year.

SARS scam? Another one you didn’t mention. This virus evolved into a human adapted form and was just about ready to explode into a new ecological niche, us. The fact that it didn’t was due to early heroic efforts by many people, scientist and nonscientist, a few of whom caught the virus and died.

Computer scam? I bet you don’t believe you can buy a cheap PC that connects to something called the internet either. Who do you think invented this stuff?

Not sure who has the credibility problem here. Ever read a newspaper?

“Y2K scam? Something to be said for identifying a problem and fixing it before rather than after the fact. Worked rather well this time.”

No kidding. This was not a hyped up phantom problem, is was just a problem that got (mostly) fixed in time with a lot of money and hard work. I know, I fixed some back in ‘99. (Including a Y2K bug in an ASP application that had originally been designed in ‘98. I was sorely tempted to track down the original programmer and beat him about the head and neck with a large object.)

Re “No kidding. This was not a hyped up phantom problem, is was just a problem that got (mostly) fixed in time with a lot of money and hard work. I know, I fixed some back in ‘99.”

Yep. They wouldn’t even let us take vacation in the last 2 or 3 weeks of 1999, just in case something got missed. But if nothing happened then, it’s because we’d already spent a large chunk of man hours double checking the code.

Henry

wow- a genome duplicated itself! that proves everything!

interesting thought: the NCSE (national center of science education) proclaims that homology has nothing to do with common ancestry, and it shouldn’t be presented as evidence for common ancestry. Go Panda thumb- even your logo is bad science.

levi:

the NCSE (national center of science education) proclaims that homology has nothing to do with common ancestry, and it shouldn’t be presented as evidence for common ancestry. Go Panda thumb- even your logo is bad science.

What common ancestry do you think the panda’s thumb is supposed to provide evidence of? You’ve missed the whole significance of it. Stephen Jay Gould used the panda’s ‘thumb’ as an example of how evolution has to make do with the materials available as in fact it is not a digit at all.

Yeah I get it. Thanks for that bombshell. Stephen Jay Gould saying another fun fact that dosn’t prove evolution at all. Are the any “facts” about evolution that you know are true?

still waiting. I know blurt out something like Miller-Urey, or peppered moths or panspermia! That’ll do it! wait, that guy just said genomes duplicated other genomes…that rocks!

You guys simply have no credibility anymore.

Then stop getting your “science” from the sensationalist media.

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Excerpts from the NCSE link Apostasius kindly posted, since levi will no doubt ignore it otherwise:

Evolution and homology are closely related concepts but they are not circular: homology of a structure is diagnosed and tested by outside elements: structure, position, etc., and whether or not the pattern of distribution of the trait is genealogical. If the pattern of relationships looks like a genealogy, it would be perverse to deny that the trait reflects common ancestry or that an evolutionary relationship exist between the groups. Similarly, the closeness of the relationship between two groups of organisms is determined by the extent of homologous features; the more homologous features two organisms share, the more recent their common ancestor. Contrary to Wells’s contention, neither the definition nor the application of homology to biology is circular.

Today we also recognize genetic homologies. There are similar genes that control the development of non-homologous features. For example, there is a gene, named “Pax6,” possessed by fruit flies, mice, and many other organisms, which influences the development of the eye. Biologists hypothesize that the gene is inherited from a common ancestor not only because of its biochemical similarity but also because of its distribution in numerous taxa. However, the actual eyes that the gene forms are not a result of common ancestry – their shared ancestor most likely lacked eyes, although it may have had light-sensing ability. The eyes of flies, mice, and many other creatures are of different structure and position and are not historically continuous, yet the Pax6 gene is historically continuous and responsible for them all.

As our current knowledge of biology suggests, there is no reason to doubt the fact that the patterns of structures, behavior, genes, and developmental programs fit best with the hypothesis that all organisms share common ancestors. Many of the similarities among these widely divergent groups are a result of that ancestry. The questions currently being debated in biology are not whether homology is real, but rather what structures are homologous and how we may best determine homology (because our diagnostic approaches are fallible). This type of discussion of reliability of methodology is typical for science in all fields, not just biology. Descent is the basis for homology; similar genes, acting through development, convey homology between generations. Genes build structures through their interactions in the developmental program. Therefore genes, development, and similarity of structure and position are discovery procedures for homology; they help biologists to determine evolutionary relationships. This fits the patterns and processes we observe in the natural world; this is what we should teach.

levi Wrote:

wow- a genome duplicated itself! that proves everything!

You kind of missed the important part: those genes duplicated and the duplicates developed new functions.

Feel free to specifically respond to any of PZ’s posts, if you like. Snotty one-line posts hardly constitute any sort of substantive refutation.

levi Wrote:

Yeah I get it. Thanks for that bombshell. Stephen Jay Gould saying another fun fact that dosn’t prove evolution at all. Are the any “facts” about evolution that you know are true?

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands. Fortunately for me, since you are the one trying to refute evolutionary theory (mainstream science, accepted by all serious scientists), the burden of proof is yours.

Therefore, it is not anyone’s job except your own to provide you with information about evolutionary science. If you want to challenge what a scientist tells you, it is incumbent upon you to become informed. If you can’t be bothered to become familiar with the science (and not simply the creationist strawmen of science), then stop whining about it.

You should, at the very least, respect the fact that hundreds of thousands of scientists working in the biological sciences honestly find the evidence for evolution compelling.

It doesn’t matter how many times you answer question #2. You can find ways to demonstrate it happening right there in front of them if you want. It doesn’t matter. It can’t exist according to their belief system, therefore it does not exist.

You’re wasting your time by trying to engage these people. Produce good demonstrations for the general public and educate the general public. Keep moving the science forward, and apply the science.

Re: Y2K

I was the SOLE IT person for a 300-employee manufacturing firm with a 30-seat Windows network in 1999. I thoroughly tested all our applications in the last six months of the year, and resolved a couple of minor issues well in advance of “Doomsday”; reported to the board, and everyone was happy. The second week of December, one of our VPs (who was IN the meeting where I made my report) saw a piece of TV paranoia and insisted that I had to be ON-SITE when the clock/calendar ticked over to 2000. Over the next two weeks, I managed to talk him down to “I’ll be home by the phone”, though he wasn’t too happy about it. Everything went smooth as silk, of course - and no, I did NOT stay home New Year’s Eve.

My point is this: No technically-savvy person I knew had any real concern about Y2K. It was not a science scam - it was bored-media-people brouhaha.

How about nylon eating bacteria as an example?

I wish Creationist would just give it up, and accept that the rejection of evolution is entirely independent of scientific argument. Stop pretending that its just a matter of evidence when nothing is going to change your mind.

Joe Creationist Wrote:

I’ve lived through too many “science” scams (“fossil” fuels, overpopulation, Y2K bug, bird flu etc…) in my life to put much faith in it any more.

If you want to discuss problems with modern scientific institutions, policies, etc., there’s certainly a subject there; but if that’s the case, your post contains a lot of non sequiturs. If you’re just trolling, I will just say that putting faith in things, rather than digging to find accurate information, is never wise - and it’s hardly the fault of scientists if you rely on junk media/science/etc.

the burden of proof is mine? What am I trying to prove? I am currently taking biology in college and we are going over evolution. What is my burden of proof? Can any of you evolutionists answer why it is OK to believe a theory that breaks many Laws of Nature?

1.) You dont get something from nothing 2.) You don’t get though from the non thinking 3.) You don’t get life from the nonliving 4.) An object in motion stays in motion 5.) You don’t get order from chaos

I am not an IDer, though you’ve already labelled me as one. Ive been slammed for my one liners, all I am doing is finding it hard to believe evoluyion occurs. What glorious things came from mutation! New genotype with new functions? What new functions, I think you need to read the article again. Go mutations- create! That Newton was full of shit anyway. Law of motion who needs em? Evolutionists dont.

Ah, okay, no order from chaos. Breaks a “law of nature.” Excellent points. Let’s see if they work out, oo-kay?

In that case, of course, getting substances like crystalline ice (well-ordered molecular lattice) or snowflakes (six-sided and other symmetric structures) from the disordered swarm of H20 in water would be utterly impossible, correct-o-roonie?

Hmmmm.…

1.) You dont get something from nothing

Has nothing to do with evolution

2.) You don’t get though from the non thinking

Trivially disproven by childbirth/development, unless you want to argue that sperm and eggs can think.

3.) You don’t get life from the nonliving

Again, has nothing to do with evolution (look up abiogenesis)

4.) An object in motion stays in motion

Perhaps you could explain what Newton’s First Law has to do with evolution, and why you left out the more important bit. Has your “biology class” not gotten round to the part about inertia yet? Kinda slow going.

5.) You don’t get order from chaos

Again, has nothing to do with evolution. Smacks of the old “Second Law of Thermodynamics” canard, but fortunately evolution depends on nothing but good old-fashioned chemical reactions in the process of reproduction, and if they did violate the Second Law we’d all be in trouble.

A less charitable person might suggest that due to your complete misunderstandings of basic biology (and physics) and your conflation of evolution with other ideas in science (the Big Bang, abiogenesis, etc.) that you’re not an actual biology college student but a homeschooled creationist raised on nothing but Hovindite material, here not to question but to proselytize and bloviate. Fortunately you have assured us otherwise so I’d never suggest such a thing.

Levi, old bean!

Modern college biology doesn’t “go over” evolution, I’m afraid.

Perhaps you’d like to lead us in a discussion of transcriptases and transferases, which are what you should be studying in your second semester.

We could help you with your homework, you know. Which textbook are you using and what chapter are you on?

Re: y2k. We can get a handle on the “scam” by looking at the failures. One of my clients had to run a critical system backdated to 1972 because one supplier refused to fix the Y2K bug in their product. Another found 138 problems after the beginning of 2000, over and above the large number already identified and fixed.

Both clients spent a very large amount beforehand to fix Y2K bugs. Had they not done so, had they just said, “it’s only a scam”, they would have been out of business by the end of January 2000.

1.) You dont get something from nothing

You’re right. Evolutionary adaptation takes lots of time and lots of energy. Energy is consumed to generate order.

In nature, most of this energy comes from the sun or geothermal processes.

I work with evolutionary computation, and that consumes energy too. That energy comes from the power grid.

In all of the above cases, entropy is being increased elsewhere in the universe at a rate greater than the corresponding entropy decrease occurring within the evolving system, in keeping with the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

2.) You don’t get though[t] from the non thinking

Concept is out of context. I’m not even sure that makes sense.

3.) You don’t get life from the nonliving

Can’t answer that one yet, so we don’t know where life came from. Unlike the IDists, I am perfectly comfortable with “I don’t know” as an answer until we… like… actually know something.

4.) An object in motion stays in motion

Not relevant.

5.) You don’t get order from chaos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_30

By no means the only demonstration.

Levi:

I am not an IDer, though you’ve already labelled me as one.

Ummmm, well OK. You are not an IDer. You don’t seem too enthusiastic about evolution either seeing as it violates the law that 4.) “an object in motion stays in motion”.

But we are here. So if it isn’t a Designer(s) or chance and necessity (evolution), how are we here? Space aliens or the Galactic computer won’t work. When you invoke a material agent, one has to ask who created that Galactic computer. Perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster folks will want to weigh in.

“the burden of proof is mine? What am I trying to prove?” you are actually trying to falsify evolution.

“Can any of you evolutionists answer why it is OK to believe a theory that breaks many Laws of Nature?”

I don’t “beleive” in evolution. I accept it due to the millions of scientific papers in a variety of fields. What “laws” does an increase in gene frequency within a population break?

1.) You dont get something from nothing

“virtual” particles.

2.) You don’t get though from the non thinking has nothing to do with evolution

3.) You don’t get life from the nonliving as stated, abogenesis

4.) An object in motion stays in motion unless- what the rest of that saying? oh, nothing to do with evo theory

5.) You don’t get order from chaos use of chaos to arrange particles (in order) has been used.

Re “1.) You dont get something from nothing”

That’s an argument for evolution, not against it.

Henry

OK, so Im learning I need to chose my words wisely, I said going over Biology- my bad. I am taking Biology at CSU Chico we are now discussing evolution. You can believe that, or am I secretly trying to infiltrate this site while masquerading as a college student. My mission if I choose to accept it: join an evolution blog and challenge the bloggers! To the business at hand, I keep reading that Something from Nothing and law of enertia dosn’t apply to evolution. How can I begin to have any faith in evolution if the text book claims that the big bang occurred from nothing, stars planets formed, life arose from the primordal soup. (For everyone thinking I am now secretly underming Pandas Thumb, that was a summary) Big Bang-something from nothing and law of enertia, Life spontaneously arising from soup-thought from non thought and life from non-living. Is that enthusiastic enough? My bad for not having a web cam and showing you all I am doing jumping jacks! I hope I don’t squash and virtual particles. P.S. I enjoy this site and all of your comments-even the labels, I look forward to talking more.

My mission if I choose to accept it: join an evolution blog and challenge the bloggers!

well, get on with it then. If that’s your actual mission, you sure have been flailing at it so far.

random gibberish doesn’t count as a challenge (except to figure out if your sane or not).

levi Wrote:

I am taking Biology at CSU Chico we are now discussing evolution.

You’re in Biology 101, I take it. Who’s your instructor? Have you brought up your concerns with him/her? Ballantyne or Larsson? You might also consider stopping by and talking about this with Dr. Schierenbeck. I’m sure she can set you straight and give you more detail than the cursory coverage you’re going to get from an intro course. That is, if you’re actually interested in having your questions answered at all and aren’t just here to be obnoxious.

Judging from your questions, I’d suggest you take advantage of office hours, because it sounds like you’re probably not doing too well on this unit.

levi Wrote:

… I am taking Biology at CSU Chico we are now discussing evolution. You can believe that, or am I secretly trying to infiltrate this site while masquerading as a college student. My mission if I choose to accept it: join an evolution blog and challenge the bloggers! To the business at hand, I keep reading that Something from Nothing and law of enertia dosn’t apply to evolution. How can I begin to have any faith in evolution if the text book claims that the big bang occurred from nothing, stars planets formed, life arose from the primordal soup. (For everyone thinking I am now secretly underming Pandas Thumb, that was a summary) Big Bang-something from nothing and law of enertia, Life spontaneously arising from soup-thought from non thought and life from non-living. ….

I’m prepared to accept that you are discussing evolution as part of a biology course at CSU Chico (clarification of the name of the institute would help those of us who read this from outside the US). Perhaps you could explain to the rest of us what the Big Bang has to do with evolution? I am not aware of any biology text books that describe the Big Bang.

Inertia is a mechanical property of objects, and similarly has nothing to do with evolution.

Big Bang theory is a cosmological theory, not a biological one. It arises as a deduction from General Relativity and the observation that the universe is expanding.

You assert that life arising from soup exemplifies “thought from non-thought”. It has already been pointed out by others that the origin of life is Abiogenesis, and is not a part of evolutionary theory.

Additionally, for “thought from non-thought” to make any sense, you must define exactly what you mean by your use of the word “thought”. And then provide some evidence that thought cannot arise from non-thought. I am not aware of any mechanism to prevent something non-thinking but sufficiently complex to become thinking. This concept serves as a seed for many science-fiction stories, after all.

I must say, however, that if you are discussing evolution at university as part of a biology course, and you think that any of the arguments you have mentioned have anything to do with evolution, it is a pretty rubbish biology department.

Finally, you questioned my placing the burden of proof upon you. Your prior comments were terse to the point of being aggressive, seemed generally anti-evolution, and were dismissive rather than inquiring. If you struggle to understand evolution, ask questions. There are plenty of readers here who will spare 15 minutes to post a reply. Your comments, however, did not indicate a wish to learn. They instead seemed to indicate a wish to dismiss that which you did not understand. It was because you seemed to be dismissing the whole of evolutionary theory that I pointed out that the burden of proof was yours.

Levi:

Let me make a sincere suggestion, please: When attempting to participate in a reasoned discussion via text, it behooves one to utilize any spell-checking and grammar-checking software available. Misspellings and sentence fragments give statements a frantic and frenzied appearance, and may contribute to their being dismissed out-of-hand as uninformed or even baiting. I fully understand the temptation to dash off an Internet post with less attention to such things, but I certainly hope your writing for your classwork is better edited.

Levi,

I have to reinforce the comments made by several other commentators about the lack of coherence in your posts. In fact I question whether you are indeed a student at any university because your ability to express yourself, ignoring the validity of any of your claims, is well below what I would expect from any of my students (I have taught groups of students who had English as their third or fourth language).

Instead of just sitting at the keyboard and typing, first think about what you want to say and how to say it. Better still, jot down the main points you want to make, then rearrange them until there is a decent flow of ideas. Once you have typed it in, use the ‘preview’ button and study what you have written. Does it clearly express what you intend? Are there any typos or grammatical errors that may make you look ignorant? Only press the ‘post’ button when you are completely satisfied.

I’m sorry if I sound condescending but, really! It is almost impossible to figure out what you are driving at in your posts. I suspect the thoughts in your head are just as muddled as the thoughts written in your posts.

Levi:

How can I begin to have any faith in evolution if the text book claims that the big bang occurred from nothing,

The big bang is astrophysics and cosmology, has nothing to do with evolution. Unlike on earth, when looking out into space, we are also looking back in time due to finite speed of light. So far, we’ve looked into the past almost to the big bang (ca. 13.7 billion years ago) and all observations are consistent. In addition, the cosmic microwave background is left over as direct evidence that it occurred.

Whether you can understand or “believe” in a theory has zero to do with whether it is true or not. Scientists in general believe as little as possible. They formulate hypothesis and test them by collecting as much data as possible and making predictions. The big bang is widely accepted not because physicists believe stuff but because it is fully consistent with a huge amount of data and nothing has refuted it yet.

You can believe whatever you want to, elves, L. Ron Hubbard, Druids, Elvis etc.. But if you don’t have a theory that explains and is consistent with all the facts, that is not science and no scientist will bother taking you seriously.

To Levi: Intentional or not the form of you questions are very antagonistic, and the tone of your position implies you have already reached a conclusion; however I shall endeavor to answer your points fairly:

1) You don’t get something from nothing “Law of conservation of matter and energy” The total quantity of matter and energy available in the universe is a fixed amount and never any more or less.

Assuming you refer to the big bang and are not trying to indicate this as “something significant from something insignificant”, then consider the following: Originally the big bang theory was never about matter suddenly appearing, it was the idea that all the matter in the universe occupied a single point (like a black hole) and the implication that matter would at some future point re-collapse into that single point and then possibly re-expand. A newer version suggest the possibility that the net energy/mass of the universe is zero, but its size is increasing. Zero occupying a single point has less entropy than +1,-1 spread over two points and maintains the same overall energy. So as the universe expands there is room for matter and energy to form coupled with a negative potential like gravity.

2.) You don’t get thought from the non thinking I’m not sure where you are getting this one from. I’ve never heard this one before.

Thinking is not a well defined concept, let me put it this way: A simple generally considered non-thinking organism reacts to stimuli. Certain stimuli come in pairs. A mutation cause a variation in the response to the first stimulus results in a more beneficial or less harmful result to the second stimulus. Where do you draw the line between a completely automatic response and the idea that an organism evolved to feel “fear”?

3.) You don’t get life from the nonliving Again this isn’t something I was taught. Please elaborate as to your source.

What is you view on “self-replicating molecules”? While there isn’t a complete abiogenesis model significant steps have been made. Also as most have pointed out, the validity and value of evolution (which only covers what happens after life exists) is not based on or affected by the validity of abiogenesis.

4.) An object in motion stays in motion Well its actually “tends” to stay in motion, but otherwise that’s Newton’s first law of motion (inertia).

Like most people here, I am confused as to how mass and velocity relates to evolution and biology.

5.) You don’t get order from chaos “Second law of thermodynamics” “The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.”

Entropy is often confused with order turning to chaos. Perhaps ironically a state of absolute entropy would generally be viewed as absolute order. Ice crystallization is one of the easiest examples where the entropy is increasing at the same time as perceived order. I will give you the point that life requires a decrease in entropy, but this is one reason why sunlight (the sun is increasing in entropy) is essential to life on Earth.

Back to the original point about evolution…what is you view on nylon eating bacteria? The ability to consume nylon which appeared through mutation strikes me as an excellent example of a new feature.

It strikes me that evolution is all about tiny steps. Take enough steps and you can walk a mile. Its easy to see a step, buts its hard to understand the path when you are only looking for milestones.

Alann Wrote:

It strikes me that evolution is all about tiny steps. Take enough steps and you can walk a mile. Its easy to see a step, buts its hard to understand the path when you are only looking for milestones.

That’s a nice way of expressing it. I like that.

CSU Chico: California State University at Chico

levi Wrote:

Can any of you evolutionists answer why it is OK to believe a theory that breaks many Laws of Nature?

I admit that, if your understanding of science is such that you think the things you listed are “Laws of Nature” (i.e. poor), you would naturally have a hard time believing (in the colloquial sense) a lot of things a science class will present. However, if you study physics, chemistry, and biology, you will find your misconceptions addressed.

1.) You dont get something from nothing

Sez who?

“Nothing” has all sorts of interesting properties. Waves propagate through “nothing”. Space-time warps “nothing”, which then influences solid matter. “Nothing” may turn out to somehow have much of the missing mass of the universe.

And let’s not forget the most amazing property of all. While, according to Levi, “nothing” will not eventually produce even the simplest of self-replicating amino acids, it apparently has no problem at all whipping up an all-knowing, all seeing, all powerful deity, who then goes on to spontaneously fill nothing with everything.

That’s quite a trick there for little ‘ol nothing.

Re “Can any of you evolutionists answer why it is OK to believe a theory that a theory that breaks many Laws of Nature?”

As compared to what?

Slight changes per generation aren’t going to break any laws. So repeating that a few million times won’t do so either.

Getting that result without the intervening steps would break some laws.

Henry

Re “Can any of you evolutionists answer why it is OK to believe a theory that a theory that breaks many Laws of Nature?”

As compared to what?

Slight changes per generation aren’t going to break any laws. So repeating that a few million times won’t do so either.

Getting that result without the intervening steps would break some laws.

Henry

Oh rats - just ignore one of those.

Hi. I’m a Christian who is heavily anti-“Intelligent Design.” It’s not that I don’t believe in a Creator; it’s just that I understand that it is a BELIEF. I subscribe to the biblical definition of faith as the evidence of things NOT SEEN. In other words, the biblical God is not too impressed by those who hanker after evidence of His existence. You ID-ers would do well to remember the words of Jesus to “doubting” Thomas: “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have yet believed.” Some intelligent believers (they do exist!) realize that ID has the property of being destructive to faith, since it promises a scientific proof (a sign) for something that is non-falsifiable–and then is summarily dispatched by actual scientific fact (since ID, after all, is bad science–or not science at all). “Irreducible complexity,” for example, does not stand up too well as a theory, in the face of the possibility of past functionality of “parts,” not to mention the existence of direct evidence of such functionality. Final analysis: We should keep faith and science separate, to preserve them both.

Casey Wolberg, you made a very important point, that I think can be applied to the whole of Christian Apologetics.

Since proof (or the demand for proof) actively denies faith (where faith is defined as belief despite the absence of evidence), where does that leave any Christian who insists that divine intervention in the world leaves real evidence?

And besides that, how/why can somebody just assume that a Creator (pardon me, Intelligent Designer/Bioengineer) would have an aversion to using descent with change as part of the process?

Henry

I think the answer has to do with the “kind after kind” design element mentioned in Genesis. But with a proper understanding of what evolutionary theory actually says, one discovers that this “kind after kind” provision is not actually at variance with evolution, especially considering the possibity that “species” does not mean the same thing as the biblical “kind.” I mean, “kind after kind” does not rule out small variations between parent and offspring, while evolution does not posit that parents give rise directly to offspring that are of a different species from them. Also, there is great confusion among religious people, I think, between evolutionary theory and origin of life scenarios, the latter of which science has much trouble with (coming up with an adequate explanation for the self-organization of information content sufficient for replication, for example). However, even an origin of life scenario that explained how sufficient information content arose in once inert matter would not necessarily challenge the account of Genesis, since an invisible creator could have used that very process intelligently (and, indeed, said creator could have designed the process itself quite purposefully) without leaving any evidence of his doing so. Again, “creationism” is not science–it is non-falsifiable. The question of origion of life, then, comes down to a choice among faiths, two of which are sometimes called “creationism” and “materialism.” Evolutionary theory, however, is different from origin of life theories, and they can be considered independent of one another. Furthermore, neither has to be a challenge to one’s faith in a creator, any more than the Bible ought to challenge one’s faith in materialism.

And stevaroni…all due respect to your wit in an otherwise astute response to Levi, but it doesn’t necessarily follow from “no something out of nothing,” that a creator would, himself (herself, itself, whatever), have to be created. You’re thinking too much like a scientist and not enough like a philosopher! But I guess you knew that already :P.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on March 28, 2007 9:35 AM.

Is There A Systems Biologist In The House? was the previous entry in this blog.

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