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May 04, 2005

Explaining science to Evolutionists

Yesterday I blogged about the problem Evolutionist zealots are having with students who dare to think for themselves. Steve Verdon at Outside the Beltway doesn't seem to get it, so I'll elaborate for him.

The origins of life. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on Earth - when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

I can't tell you how many times I have seen Creationists try to pull this one off. The Miller-Urey experiments deal with the issue of abiogenesis which is basically life from non-life. Abiogenesis is not evolution. Abiogenesis is seperate from evolution. For example we can look at two situations.

  1. God creates the most basic life form and evolution takes over.
  2. Life spontaneously arises and from there evolution takes over.

From the perspective of evaluating evolution both of these scenarios are the same. In other words, evolution takes the presence of life as a given and proceeds from there.

This is the old definition switch Evolutionists are so fond of. If you point out the flaws in astronomical measuring techniques, they claim that has nothing to do with Evolution, then turn right around and use those same flawed techniques as an argument for Evolution. The theory of Evolution includes the process by which life is believed to have emerged from non-living material. To deny that is disingenuous. It is taught (as a fact, when it isn't) as part of the Evolutionary model. Questioning the flaws in it are a legitimate exercise of science. Blindly accepting it, is not.

The next question is also another attempt by creationists to pull a fast one.

Darwin's tree of life. Why don't textbooks discuss the "Cambrian explosion," in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor - thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?

This one also comes from William Dembski's essay “Five Questions Evolutionists Would Rather Dodge”. The problem is that for Dembski to come up with this view he has to quote mine evolutionist Peter Ward. However, Ward later wrote,

“Until almost 1950 the absence of metazoan fossils older than Cambrian age continued to puzzle evolutionists and earth historians alike. Other than the remains of single-celled creatures and the matlike stromatolites, it did indeed look as if larger creatures had arisen with a swiftness that made a mockery of Darwin’s theory of evolution. This notion was finally put to rest, however, by the discovery of the Ediacarian and Vendian fossil faunas of the latest Precambrian age. (Pp 35)”

Berkley's Museum of Paleontology (A hornets nest of Christian Fundamentalism if there ever was one, right) explains the Cambrian Explosion this way:

This event is sometimes called the "Cambrian Explosion", because of the relatively short time over which this diversity of forms appears.

The International Subcommission on Cambrian Stratigraphy in Würzburg, Germany says this:

The lower boundary of the Cambrian is not only the beginning of a new system but also the start of the Paleozoic and the Phanerozoic. And the Early Cambrian saw the extremely rapid diversification of multicellular animals, the Cambrian Explosion, that determined the animal evolution and is indirectly responsible for the present-day wildlife.

Evolutionists are not allowed to question their religion, so it's understandable why Ward had to “qualify” his statement. In the end, though, the explanation lacks substance. The Cambrian Explosion does defy the Evolutionary model.

The next question is very curious,

The archaeopteryx. Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds - even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?

This question contains two dubious Creationist tactics. The easiest is the "gaps in the fossil" record. We can't believe archaeopteryx is a transitional fossil between dinosaurs and birds because of the gaps in the fossil record. The problem is that fossil formation is not something that happens with great regularity. You can't go out in your backyard and find fossils with every other rock you pick up. Thus, we expect the fossil record to have gaps.

The archaeopteryx is placed in the Tithonian Age, which is the first Age of the Malm Epoch, which is the first epoch of the Jurassic period. But the dinosaurs it is supposed to have descended from are said to be of the Ladinian Age, which is the first age of the Middle Triassic Epoch. While possessing all of the traits of a modern bird, it is dated millions of years BEFORE the dinosaurs it is supposed to have descended from. Perhaps in addition to flight it had developed the ability to time-travel.

Gaps are not the problem (and the question doesn't even mention gaps). Creatures descending from other creatures not yet in existence is the problem.

 The other problem is a bit more subtle. The authors of these questions have basically made a hidden assumption: That archaeopteryx is the precursor to birds. Here is an interesting article at TalkOrigins.org.

Some people like to claim that the finding of a fossil bird from the Triassic of Texas (Protavis) proves that Archae cannot be transitional between dinosaurs and birds because Protoavis predates Archae by 75 million years. This is, of course, errant nonsense, mainly because no one is claiming that Archae is the transitional species between dinosaurs and birds, merely that Archae represents a grade of organisation which the proposed lineage went through to get from dinosaurs to birds. Archae is, I'm sorry to say, out on a limb, evolutionarily speaking. It represents a side branch, useful for comparative purposes, but not in the thick of things. So even if there were birds in the Triassic, that fact would not diminish Archae's importance as an indicator that "yes, birds could have evolved from dinosaurs."

Another bait-and-switch tactic. Archaeopteryx is presented as the transition between dinosaurs and birds in government school textbooks. That Evolutionists will grudgingly admit that it can't be, is irrelevant -- the school textbooks don't and neither do the school teachers.

Almost all of the questions suffer from well known problems and actually represent not even the slightest challange to the Theory of Evolution.

I've shown that the questions are valid, and that present serious challenges to the religion of Evolution.

 Of course a high school biology teacher probably wont know that.

Which is precisely the point. They are teaching as a fact, something they know little about, and which is not a fact at all.

Further, high school biology students wont know it.

Actually, questioning something is a great way of learning. Blindly accepting it, rarely is.

So to those who are not well versed in biology/evolutionary theory these questions will look "devastating".

And so they should look. It is appalling that students are asked to stop thinking and blindly accept a theory so flimsy.

Posted by Danny Carlton at May 4, 2005 10:28 AM

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The other day I wrote a post at Outside the Beltway about the latest gimmick from the Creationists. The gimmick are ten questions that students can "challenge" their biology teachers on in regards to evolution. Overall the questions are the sta... [Read More]

Tracked on May 4, 2005 12:19 PM

Comments

The archaeopteryx is placed in the Tithonian Age, which is the first Age of the Malm Epoch, which is the first epoch of the Jurassic period. But the dinosaurs it is supposed to have descended from are said to be of the Ladinian Age, which is the first age of the Middle Triassic Epoch. While possessing all of the traits of a modern bird, it is dated millions of years BEFORE the dinosaurs it is supposed to have descended from. Perhaps in addition to flight it had developed the ability to time-travel.

You're joking right? The Triassic comes before the Jurassic and dinosaurs appeared in the Triassic. There is no problem here with the time line.

I've shown that the questions are valid, and that present serious challenges to the religion of Evolution.

Well you've certainly shown you don't understand geological time lines and state this flawed understanding as fact. Seems to me you've been hoisted on your own petard.

Posted by: Steve at May 4, 2005 11:40 AM

[quote]Another bait-and-switch tactic. Archaeopteryx is presented as the transition between dinosaurs and birds in government school textbooks. That Evolutionists will grudgingly admit that it can't be, is irrelevant -- the school textbooks don't and neither do the school teachers.[/quote]

Wrong, Jackie. Arachaeopteryx is presented as an [i]example[/i] of a transitional form--one that has features that are exclusive to different species that appeared later--which is different from being identified as [i]the[/i]transition between dinosaurs and birds, as you so ignorantly put it.

Posted by: Jim Wynne at May 4, 2005 12:51 PM

Don't sweat it Steve, there's no arguing with a fundamentalist, although, I think that I may have a solution that'll make everyone happy. Let's just teach both Evolution AND Creation Science in school. Here's the exam:

1) Describe the theory of punctuated equalibrium and argue whether or not it represents a paradigm shift in evolutionary theory.
2) What did God create on the third day?
3) Name and describe at least three different mechanisms for genetic mutation.
4) Who named all the animals?
5) Explain the significance of "ring species" in evolutionary theory.
6) True or false: Adam was a white dude.
7) Describe the role of natural selection in evolution.
8) God saw that light was _________?
9) Define: Allopatric speciation.
10) Whom did God create first? a) Adam b) Eve) c) Talking snake.

Posted by: boomSLANG at May 4, 2005 01:17 PM

The chart I referenced was upside down, so I'll give that, but the fact remains Acheopteryx is presented as the transition between dinosaurs and birds in government schools. Remember, government school teachers have out of date books they foist on the students. Therefore they don't have access to the latest (shhh) corrections, that Evolutionists pretend have always been around.

Odd that you only chose to rebute one point. I rebutted every point you made, Steve.

The fossil gap are a relevant point when the religion of Evolution is presented as fact. Is it fact, or a theory with lots and lots of missing evidence?

Posted by: Danny Carlton at May 4, 2005 01:56 PM

Creation Science teacher: "OK class, get out your notebooks and let's take some notes."..."Ready?"

Students: "Yes, Mr. Lewis".

Creation Science teacher: "OK, God did it!"..."Class dismissed"....."Have a good summer, kids!"

Posted by: boomSLANG at May 4, 2005 02:24 PM

As usual, the best (and usually only) argument offered in defense of Evolution is an ad hominem attack against anyone questioning it.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at May 4, 2005 05:31 PM

So, by exposing the "sham" of the theory of Evolution, you PROVE...?...?...?...?...?

Posted by: boomSLANG at May 5, 2005 01:44 PM

Well you should read my post at Debunkers.org. Your overall point is that textbooks are wrong...so therefore evolution is wrong? Now if you had argued:

Textbooks are wrong, and we need to correct this so students aren't walking around misinformed.

then I'd be with ya'.

Wrong textbooks does not invalidate a theory/hypothesis. Only data can do the latter and pointing to inaccuracies in textbooks sure isn't data (against evolution).

The fossil gap are a relevant point when the religion of Evolution is presented as fact. Is it fact, or a theory with lots and lots of missing evidence?

Sigh

First, evolution is a fact. The theory of evolution is theory. Lets get that straight. Organisms change at the genetic level and that is one of the principle drivers behind evolution. As for the fossil record, we expect gaps. Fossil formation is a rare event. Thus, it is not unusual for many species to have existed and not have fossils. Further, finding fossils is also not easy either. So the fact that there are currently gaps is about as shocking as noting that water is wet.

With regards to genetic mutation and evolution please do not bring up the old canard that most mutations are harmful. Most mutations are neither harmful or beneficial. Also, please don't bring up the macro/micro distinctin unless you are ready to explain why mutation stops at the species level and cannot induce change beyond that (man made) definition.

The chart I referenced was upside down, so I'll give that, but the fact remains Acheopteryx is presented as the transition between dinosaurs and birds in government schools.

Okay, give me a citation then. And for the record, I think that a book that does this is bad. However, it does not refute the propostion that Archaeopteryx is an example of a transition. Archaeopteryx had both dinosaurian and avian features. So the claim that, "There are no transitional fossils" is clearly refuted here. There are other examples as well with the mammal like reptiles such as cynodonts, pelycosaurs, etc. Here is a nice link to Talk Origins FAQ on Macro-evolution.

Posted by: Steve at May 5, 2005 02:08 PM

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