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Some creationists have been doctored

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William Crawley | 21:59 UK time, Sunday, 16 August 2009

welcome-1.jpgIt's true. Some creationists have doctorates. And those doctorates are not just in irrelevant subject areas like theology, history and mathematics. It's just an empirical fact of the universe that some people have been awarded PhDs degrees in the relevant areas of biology and genetics -- yet they remain convinced that evolution by natural selection is a false explanation of human origins. I make this point only because there is some debate on other threads on this blog about whether young earth creationists with an advanced degree in a relevant discipline actually exist. I think it would be wise to simply stipulate that they do exist, though in very small numbers, then move on; because absolutely nothing follows from this admission. The fact that a creationist holds a PhD in biology or genetics cannot be advanced as an argument in defence of creationism, anymore than an evolutionist in possession of a relevant PhD is a walking argument for evolution. The truth or falsity of those accounts of life is demonstrated by the evidence, not the personnel.


A few years ago, a book was published with the title, In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation. The book raised a little controversy at the time, and it's now regularly referenced in Creationist literature. One of the scientists who contributed to that collection is a young earth creationist called Kurt Wise. Dr Wise is a geology graduate of Chicago University and earned a PhD in Invertebrate Paleontology at Harvard University, under the supervision of the late Stephen Jay Gould. He later served as a teaching fellow in Gould's introductory geology and biology courses. For many years, Wise was a professor in Bryan College, in Dayton, Tennessee (yes, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame). He is now a professor of theology and science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as scientific consultant to Answers in Genesis's Creation Museum in Kentucky. He's also a popular speaker at creationist events around the world -- and you can be sure that his Harvard credentials are underlined when he's introduced.

In his review of the anthology, Richard Dawkins described Kurt Wise as "an honest Creationist", because Wise writes this:

"Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand."

The "honesty" in this statement is Wise's willingness to reject "all the evidence in the universe" if it challenged creationism. Dawkins sees this as an example of the power of childhood indoctrination to leave a "mind wrecked".

Answers in Genesis has a different explanation for why some PhDs are creationists while others are evolutionists.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.


    I suppose the important phrase here is "in very small numbers", since it seems likely that any overwhelming statistic like this will have a few examples to the contrary. Condoms work 99.9% of the time, for example. Most swans, KKK members and McCain voters are white. Ikea furniture is made mostly of particle board. Episodes of South Park are funny. Humanists are not. etc.

    Who can explain Kurt Wise? The biggest indictment of both his science and his theology is the quote above, where he admits his position wouldn't change even if he was proved wrong. I think most of his peers would agree that that's already happened, leaving Wise wearing the condom that didn't work. If you... see what I mean.


  • Comment number 2.

    Bertrand Russell

    "Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so."

  • Comment number 3.

    Richard Dawkins and his pals would like people to believe that 'no reputable scientist accepts the Biblical account of creation', but - of course - that is demonstrably arrogant nonsense. (Check out, for example, 'Dissent from Darwin')

    It's a pity that, in this important discussion, some resort to ridicule rather than debate the issues. Rather gives away their lack of arguments, don't you think?

    Surely true science has nothing to fear from honest investigation?

  • Comment number 4.

    Phil, the problem here is that science has plenty to fear, not from honest investigation (as Kurt Wise correctly observes, all the evidence points to evolution), but from dishonest rhetoric. Yes, it is possible for people to get PhDs (in minute numbers) and be creationists - I don't think anyone ever observed that people couldn't be liars or fools.

    The argument from authority is a false argument. It doesn't *matter* if someone has a PhD or is the son of god or whatever - it is their *argument* that is important. And creationists have lost the argument.

  • Comment number 5.

    By stunning coincidence (surely it must be intelligently designed??) Pharyngula has a short piece directly relevant to this today. Any comment?

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/a_first-hand_report_of_nathani.php

    From the sound of it, this Jeanson chap does not sound very knowledgeable.

  • Comment number 6.

    Catherine Fahringer

    "We would be 1,500 years ahead if it hadn't been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best minds at the stake."


    Is this what the creationist nonsense has come to? I know a few creationists who have a PHD.

  • Comment number 7.

    princeessnewsjunkie -- An interesting quote from the American secularist Catherine Fahringer. On next Sunday's programme, you will hear an historian of science disagree profoundly with Fahringer's historical assessment. Far from standing in the way of scientific progress, James Hannam (PhD, Cambridge!) will argue that the church was a major driver of scientific exploration. He'll be talking about his new book, God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.

  • Comment number 8.

    I will listen to it, i have not read his book so i cannot comment on it. I would love to hear him explain about the 200,000 or so people burned at the steak in the 16th and 17th centuries and the reason why they got burned.

  • Comment number 9.


    Helio- I've always enjoyed PZ's bluntness. I see from your regular comments that you share that approach! And yes, I think as with Wise, this Jeanson isn't being a good scientist to ignore so much of what science has discovered. I'm no scientist, and don't have a scientific background, but the reason I said Wise was indicted by his own comments (which William quoted in the original post) is that it is so obviously the antithesis of the scientific process to say that no amount of evidence could change your mind.

    Like PZ, I have to wonder how these two got their Harvard PhDs.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Like PZ, I have to wonder how these two got their Harvard PhDs."

    People are perfectly capable of doing a PhD in a real scientific discipline, do their thesis defense, get their title. Then they have a party to celebrate getting their PhD and the next day they wake up saying the exact opposite of what they've been saying the last years to get their PhD. Prime example of that: Andrew Snelling. He is AiG's geologist. And yes, he did get a real PhD in geology from a real university. Published papers that mention the earth being billions of years old, to get his PhD. Yet now he would rather be have his eyes cut out than repeat those things:

    http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.au/realsnelling.htm

    As Will said, AiG, ICR, etc are happy to tout the valid scientific titles their stooges obtained, but they never mention how they got those credentials by saying the exact opposite of what they are saying now as YECs.

    And another great Pharyngula fan here btw.

  • Comment number 11.



    Will

    How can you say that scientists who believe in creationism or ID exist in very small numbers?

    Anyone with a passing interest in this subject knows that such scientists often get a roasting in their professional capacity.

    Would it not be logical to suggest there may be many more who keep a low profile?

    I have certainly met a few who fit this category.

    On paper the number on one side or another doesnt matter. quite right.

    In the real world, the dominant viewpoint in science has always had significant power over other views which would challenge them.

    I was speaking to a doctor yesterday who told me a very interesting story about an aussie docotor who found out that tetracyline would cure many stomach ulcers. But this threatened to put a pharma mnc out of business.

    It was a very dirty story. pure science does not always rule the world!

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    While we're waiting for Dr Naughty PhD (Hi Peter!), I actually don't entirely *disagree* with the notion that for many people, their religious beliefs actually spurred on their science - in many ways that was the case for me. And the church certainly played its role (albeit coming to the party a bit *late*!), but the history of science is littered with people who started out trying to find evidence for one hypothesis, ending up finding that the evidence didn't support that, and thereby changing their minds. The fact that the God Hypothesis may have (to some limited extent) impelled science forwards in the middle ages (following the excellent advances made by the Muslims, who very much dropped the ball later) does not support the original flawed hypothesis.

    It's not so much that we stand on the shoulders of giants; it's more that they give us an upsy. If they suddenly fall away, we're still here; we haven't lost anything by discarding redundant hypotheses.

    John, yes, I like PZ's bluntness, and I *love* what he did with the cracker - that was hilarious. But I still have no problem in calling myself a Christian Atheist, because for me it was indeed Christianity that led to me becoming an atheist. If there *is* a god, he wants me to be an atheist - that's a calling, and it's one I'm not ashamed of.

    :-)

    -H

  • Comment number 14.

    OT,
    I was speaking to a doctor yesterday who told me a very interesting story about an aussie docotor who found out that tetracyline would cure many stomach ulcers. But this threatened to put a pharma mnc out of business.

    Alas, the conspiracy theory is not true. Barry Marshall is a medical hero, and was awarded the Nobel prize, and the "medical" treatment of ulcers is now routine.

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html

  • Comment number 15.

    I'd have thought 'Christian Atheist' was a contradition in terms....but perhaps the comment was tongue-in-cheek!

    Few people seem to be aware of the scientific evidence which is consistent with the creation model, simply because that information is effectively censored from public view. (eg no series of programmes
    called 'God's Blueprint' on BBC N. Ireland!)

    Professor Verna Wright observed that, in so many places, 'Evolution is not debated - it is regarded as a basis for further discussion: that is brainwashing.'

    As I say, honesty in this area seems to be scarce!

  • Comment number 16.


    Pastorphilip-

    I'm certain that the many observers and contributors to this thread would be highly interested to see some examples of "the scientific evidence which is consistent with the creation model". I know I would. Could you post an example for me? Thanks.


  • Comment number 17.

    Hi John,

    You are right to call out pastorphilip over providing some evidence. But as you may recall from the recent creationist movie thread, we won't see him backing up anything he says:


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/06/creationists_defend_darwin_fil.html

    PeterJhenderson called him out several times to provide some evidence. And despite Graham Veale atttributing credibility in spades to our pastor, it was once again all empty noise. Bold assertions of there being great evidence for creation, cries of repression syndrome, but when told to put up, nothing.

    Come on pastorphilip, please answer the calls from peterJhenderson, John and myself to provide the positive evidence for creation. Feel free to enlist the help of your fellow pastor in this thread who shares your repression syndrome. Pastor B has been challenged to provide positive evidence for creation by DylanDog, Helio, myself and others for years already.

    But it seems you two religion pros just can't do it at all.

  • Comment number 18.

    you can be sure that his Harvard credentials are underlined when he's introduced.

    For me, this is the most troubling aspect - that institutions of higher learning are complicit, and that these spurious institutions then bank on their credibiltiy

    This (among other things) is what's happening over here across the pond. You Europeans are right to laugh at us; we're a scandal.

    I don't suppose you folks would be interested in coming back here and taking us over again?

  • Comment number 19.

    Hello Jeff_Eyges,

    "For me, this is the most troubling aspect - that institutions of higher learning are complicit"

    Please see the example of Andrew Snelling, post 10. I think he got a real degree for real work from a real university. It's just that the day after he received his degree, he started saying things 180 degrees opposite to what he had received his degree for. I'm no so sure if the university where he got his PhD can be faulted for that.

  • Comment number 20.


    PK- I happen to think you're probably right about what's happening here; the Snellings, the Wises and the Jeansons are hiding their proclivity to ignore the scientific method whenever it conflicts with their preconceived religious beliefs until after they've completed their degrees, and then being accepted as proud heroes of AiG on the speaking circuit.

    Would anyone else be interested in seeing their PhDs? I'm sure we can find some links.


  • Comment number 21.

    Others who have gone the same route, however, have been completely forthcoming. Stephen Jay Gould knew full well of Wise's beliefs; he defended him against his colleagues who didn't want to give him the degree. Another Young Earth Creationist, Marcus Ross, got a PhD from the University of Rhode Island two years ago; his advisers were quite aware of his beliefs: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html

  • Comment number 22.

    3. pastorphillip:
    Surely true science has nothing to fear from honest investigation?
    -
    Nothing to fear at all, - that is real science.
    Religion and xianity on the other hand, have EVERYTHING to fear from ANY investigation that challenges their validity, like any other lies.

  • Comment number 23.

    If evidence is what people want, then the evidence that is abundantly clear to me from my excursions into this blog is that very few of the arguments I have read here have anything at all to do with science, and everything to do with philosophical presuppositions.

    There seems to be either a complete inability to understand this on the part of some contributors (who shall remain nameless), or, as I think is more likely, a complete unwillingness to accept this (most probably for deeply personal reasons). There is a determination to make science the mouthpiece of a particular philosophy, and thankfully there are intelligent people who are not taken in by this act of intellectual subterfuge.

    How we interpret scientific data depends on the presuppositions that we bring to that data. The idea that "the scientific evidence demands that we rule out any possibility that the emergence of life could have depended on the actions of an external organising influence (i.e. intelligence)" is a truly laughable proposition. There is not one shred of empirical evidence that demands such a thing. Not one. There is not one shred of empirical evidence that demands that we should be naturalists.

    So I will quote CS Lewis again, even though I am apparently not allowed to (according to one contributor), since he was supposedly not "up to scratch" intellectually (even though no evidence at all was offered to support this criticism):

    "What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question."

    Two groups of people are shouting at each other from opposing philosophical positions, and poor old science is the "piggy in the middle". CS Lewis was absolutely right. We will never get anywhere with the discussions on this blog unless we face up to this simple truth.

  • Comment number 24.


    "Stephen Jay Gould knew full well of Wise's beliefs .... Marcus Ross got a PhD .... his advisers were quite aware of his beliefs"

    And to clarify: having religious beliefs of many sorts should have no bearing whatsoever upon whether someone is granted a PhD in a scientific discipline. But in my mind there is a huge problem when a geologist, for example, holds to the empirical claims being made by their religion which conflict with the science in their field in the way Young-Earth Creationism does evolutionary theory and contemporary geology, and then waver in their adherence to the scientific method by deliberate ignorance of evidence. Can there be any better definition of 'bad science' than the scientist whose positions run contrary to the very scientific method??


  • Comment number 25.

    There are few Dr Creationists and they are afflicted by a condition called being deranged.

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 - rochcarlie -

    "There are few Dr Creationists and they are afflicted by a condition called being deranged."

    And your evidence to support this assertion is..............?


  • Comment number 27.

    #25 - rochcharlie -

    "There are few Dr Creationists and they are afflicted by a condition called being deranged."

    How wonderfully constructive!

  • Comment number 28.

    In answer to comment 23, I agree that we need to make claims based purely on evidence. However, although absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, we don't gain anything by saying that an intelligence created life if there is no evidence for it. What that intelligence might be is pure conjecture (is it the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, deist god or is it an advanced alien etc.)

    Whilst we can't completely rule intelligence out, (obviously if the evidence points to an intelligent creator I'd have to admit that one exists) it's reasonable to start from a position of there not being a creator.

  • Comment number 29.

    LSV, the views of CS Lewis on science *irrelevant*. As it happens, he was not up to scratch, but that is neither here nor there. I don't understand why some people think he was a hot shot. But maybe that's just me. Let me repeat it for you, because you seem to be determined to misunderstand. NO-ONE is a priori excluding the presence of some sort of Primary Intelligent Cosmic Creator (PICC, pronounced "pixie"). There is no need to either include or exclude such a beastie; the only way of addressing that question is NOT by cod philosophy, but by scientific evidence. And even the most rabid supporter of that load of nonsense that is the Kalam cosmological argument wouold have to admit that there is no EVIDENCE.

    As it is, there is EVIDENCE that life has evolved; there is EVIDENCE that "prebiotic" molecules can and do exhibit behaviours that when combined would be called "life"; there is EVIDENCE that the solar system is just one of billions; there is EVIDENCE that the universe is Really Old.

    This has nothing to do with presuppositions. The old creationist problem has been comprehensively FALSIFIED; end of story. The continued clinging to a duff construct by some people is an interesting issue for psychology (and possibly psychiatry), but has nothing whatsoever to do with real questions of origins. We've moved on; creationists are foolish virgins.

  • Comment number 30.

    Quite simply, there is vast evidence for evolution, there is none for creationist beliefs.
    Not to accept this is as bizarre as to believe in a flat earth.
    For informed people to believe in a flat earth or creationism must be the result of a serious cognitive flaw.

  • Comment number 31.

    #25 deranged... #30 serious cognitive flaw...

    evolution?

  • Comment number 32.

    Helio.
    There is evidence and there is interpretation of evidence.
    ... there is EVIDENCE which can be interpreted as meaning life has evolved; there is EVIDENCE which can be interpreted as meaning that "prebiotic" molecules can and do exhibit behaviours that when combined would be called "life"; there is EVIDENCE which can be interpreted as meaning that the solar system is just one of billions; there is EVIDENCE which can be interpreted as meaning that the universe is very old.
    Nobody disputes that there is evidence, only the interpretation of that evidence. I see the same fossil record, the same adaptations in nature etc but my interpretation of and conclusions about the evidence is different and yes, based upon my worldview as is the basis for all our assumptions. But in spite protestations to the contrary from so-called 'free thinkers', for me, the evidence confirms my assumptions and is therefore acceptible to me. Interpret the evidence in another way if you wish.

  • Comment number 33.

    A few examples of things which point to Creation rather than Evolution:

    * Evidence of design in the Universe, the earth, and Man himself. (The planet on which we live gives all the indication of having been fine-tuned for human life.)We are surrounded by observable natural laws.

    * Man is clearly different from other animals - physically, mentally and spiritually.

    * The absence of transitional forms in the fossil record - the 'missing link' is still missing;

    * Philosophically, the Creation model is certainly preferable to one which says we came from nothing, are here for no reason and are headed nowhere. The Bible teaches that Man finds his fulfillment in being rightly related to God - the inner longings of our own hearts confirm that this is so.

    * While we are God's creation, we are flawed because of sin (see Genesis 3), and - in contrast to the idea that we are getting better and better - the evil we observe in our world can be traced back to sinful human nature. This, of course, is why we needed a Saviour, which God provided in the person of His Son,Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross to make it possible for our relationship with God to be restored.


    Of course, there is very much more, and an abundance of material available to help in getting to grips with this neglected body of evidence.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hello pastor,

    Thanks for finally at least making an effort, after the many reminders by various posters to do so. Unfortunately, your effort is either wholly unpersuasive or unclear.

    "Evidence of design in the Universe, the earth, and Man himself. (The planet on which we live gives all the indication of having been fine-tuned for human life.)"

    The possibility of human life on our planet is not evidence for creation of course. If conditions had been slightly different, life would have evolved different. As anyone who has thought it through anything would grasp, the life forms inhabiting a particular planet would be tuned to conditions on that planet. No evidence for creation here.

    "We are surrounded by observable natural laws."

    So we are, but please explain how that is in any way evidence for creation.

    "Man is clearly different from other animals - physically, mentally and spiritually."

    Evolution explains to a large extent differences in life forms through adaptation to different environments. Please explain how differences between man and animals would constitute evidence for creation.

    "The absence of transitional forms in the fossil record - the 'missing link' is still missing"

    Yawn. Focusing on a gap in the fossil record rather than taking into account the many transitional forms that have been found would suggest that you are much predetermined to stick to your views.

    "Philosophically, the Creation model is certainly preferable to one which says we came from nothing, are here for no reason and are headed nowhere."

    Science doesn't say we came from nothing. And just the desire to have a higher purpose or goal is no good basis for claiming there is one. Again, no evidence for creation here.

    "While we are God's creation, we are flawed because of sin (see Genesis 3), and - in contrast to the idea that we are getting better and better - the evil we observe in our world can be traced back to sinful human nature."

    The concept embodied in the phrase 'the selfish gene' is a rather better explanation for many of the bad things we see around us. That's why evolutionists will generally tell you that it is often much better for us to act on reason rather than instinct.

    Why don't you try again, dear pastor.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ladies, a quick primer. In science you need to state your hypothesis and relate the evidence to your hypothesis to see whether it supports it or otherwise. "Prior assumptions" are actually very peripheral to all this (but I do recognise that some armchair commentators like to flatter themselves that this makes everything arbitrary. Postmodernists are not generally highly regarded by scientists).

    I simply do not accept this "I look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions" bunkum - and bunkum it is. Anyone who comes out with this is - at best - just LAZY. Yes, I've seen Ken Ham and similar cretins spew it out, but it is just so much fluff. It is undisciplined, it is intellectually cowardly, it is simply moronic.

    The EVIDENCE refutes the hypothesis of a young universe. IF you wish to continue holding that pathetic myth, you need to SHOW how the evidence has been so misinterpreted. You need a MECHANISM for how the radiometric data is so wrong, you need a MECHANISM for how we can see very distant stars and galaxies, you need a MECHANISM for what happened to the dinosaurs, you need a MECHANISM for why biological organisms exhibit phylogenetic similarities etc etc, and you need to be able to TEST those mechanisms.

    As it is, all we have from the creotards is "we look at the data with a different set of assumptions". That is so so lame.

  • Comment number 36.

    Are you now starting something like a witch hunt? The topic must be very important right now in the US and the UK. I think creationism is nothing but rubbish myself, but we have 6 (or is it more?) major religions in the world. Most of them believe in very different things and I hope I won't blow a whistle now to say even if one is, not all of those 6 can be right. As long as those clearly false things as creationism are not taught to small children who may not be able to say for themselves what is right and what is wrong, I don't care what someone may be believing for himself.

    I even think be writing so much about the persons mentioned above, you give them an attention they don't deserve and which they could utilize for means we don't want them to achieve.

  • Comment number 37.




    We have seen all these calls for "evidence" for ID / creationism before.

    The fact of the matter is that there is actually no evidence either for or against ID/creationism.

    In fact there is no evidence for or against evolution either.

    There is simply data/evidence and it is what world view you bring to the table which decides how you interpret it.

    If anyone has an open mind, just spend a few hours investigating the phylogenic tree in a reputable mainstream works.

    It is like the optical llusion of the image of a young woman and an old crone on the same page, in the same image. The object of your focus determines your conclusion.

    In many areas of science it is normal to have rival theories.

    But not in origins. There is too much emotional investment.

    That is why Francis Collins, an evolutionist, got such a roasting recently Helio. Science on paper is clean and objective. But Helio please do not be so juvenille as to suggest that science in the real world is immune from some of the big drivers of humanity ie money, sex and power. I can just see the smirk on you face when you fly such comments.


    Barry Marshall may have got the Nobel prize, but only because he was so pugnacious in the face of such an onslaught.

    Your task is to explain why he faced such massive attacks on his person because of his science.

    How many more Barry Marshalls are there out there in science whose work is never accepted because it is inconvenient for political, religious or economic reasons?

    Dont insult our intelligence by implying this is not an issue. Look at the roasting Francis Collins got recently and he believes in evolution!!!


    There are big questions at stake.

    -What caused the big bang?
    -How did life begin from nothing?
    -Why did the order and laws of the universe come from chaos?
    -Why is the universe so stable?

    These questions do not undermine theistic evolution. But they do undermine secular humanism, the real agenda here. That is why Collins REALKLy took such a hit.

    All the founders of modern science and the scientific method and disciplines joined all these dots and fervently believed that a Creator was responsible for the natural world. That underpinned all their work.

    Oppenheimer said the Scientific Revolution would not have happened without this Christian faith.

    Kepler said science was "thinking God's thoughts after him". I refer you back to Will Crawley' supporting comments in post7.

    If they had believed in origins from chaos they would not have created the science we have today; all their work assumed a creator as the first cause, the ultimate designer of all nature and scientific laws, and the power that keeps them all constant. That is no mere God of the gaps.

    And of course, all the foundations were laid long before Darwin. That includes Mendel, the founder of your field Helio.

    As for Wise, his comments do seem a little strange. Are they in context?

    It would of course be a mistake to think that they represent all scientists with a creationist/ID outlook. Because of course, the 50 scientists in the book William quoted make it quite clear that all the evidence they have seen in their career is entirely consistent with creaionism / ID.


    But now that we are talking about prejudice, do secular scientists not have any?

    Can anyone show me the scientific paper which explains why a God hypothesis should be excluded from science?

    Such a stance turns historical science, and almost all the giants of the field, utterly on their heads.

    Yes, quoting CS Lewis on this matter may be an argument from authority.

    But it shoots an arrow through the heart of W&T's view that ID is purely a fringe "fundamentalist" outlook.

    Oh, and of course Alvin Plantinga. It seems he tore the conclusion of the Dover trial to shreds for suggesting a supernatural causation was not science.

    And there is no way Plantinga is going to be called a fundie by Mr Crawley.

    People who are hostile to the idea of ID or creationism also need to ask whether their hold any other religious prejudices in relation to this.

    If ID / creationism was true, they would obviously have to start to take the bible seriously ie in the way that all New Testament characters assumed all Old Testament characters and events to be actually true.

    That would have severe implications for pride and spiritual accountability.

    How many secularists will say this could never colour their views of this conversation?

    OT

  • Comment number 38.

    OT, getting tired, are we?
    There is simply data/evidence and it is what world view you bring to the table which decides how you interpret it.

    This was precisely the nonsense that my previous post was addressed towards. I really don't give the proverbial monkey's that some "PhDs" feel that the evidence is consistent with creation. Loonies are not exactly in short supply. The question is NOT their metaphysical assumptions or some quasiphilosophical twaddle, but how they can DEMONSTRATE that the evidence supports their wacky hypothesis. They cannot do that; all they can do is DECLARE, and that, my dear boy, is a pretty feeble attempt at an argument from authority, and that, again my dear boy, is a fallacy. You can *claim* whatever you like; *showing* is a different thing altogether, and that's the chewing gum on LSV's trousers too.

    Marshall's case - sorry - REFUTES your suggestion. Of course new ideas are ridiculed and pilloried and attacked and shot at from all sides - and guess what - the ones that work STILL WORK; this is trial by fire. It is part of normal science. However, a lot of ideas are pants (such as creationism), and these ideas perish. Of course, you'll always be able to find crazy people who wish to believe the lie; no-one is surprised that cdesign proponentsists continue to exist.

    As for Plantinga, he may not be a fundie, but his understanding of science in general and evolution in particular is, well, pathetic. His book review of "The God Delusion" is comedy, and his analysis of the Dover trial is utter tripe. It's hard, though, to allow him the excuse of simple inane stupidity; he seems to have tried quite hard to get the wrong end of the stick in both cases, so my sympathies are somewhat blunted. I accept he is a virtuoso with philosophically-impressive terminology, but he's riffing on a really duff tune.

  • Comment number 39.

    OT

    It is not just secularists (do you mean atheists) who are hostile to creationism, mainstream religion is also.
    Even the RC church, never an institution in the vanguard of enlightened thought, quickly accepted the overwhelming evidence for evolution.

  • Comment number 40.

    This thread really seems to be generating a lot of emotional heat. It makes me smile (better that than cry). A veritable psychologist's paradise, methinks!

    I discovered a new word today: atheophobia. It cropped up in a blog about a review of some unfortunate soul's book who dared to write a (polite) rebuttal of "The God Delusion". Obviously this daring chappy was really being "atheophobic". Well, chaps, welcome to the club, because we've had plenty of "christophobia" (cringe word) for 2000 years (and it seems it hasn't ended)!

    Thanks imperialphysics for your post in #28. Although I don't entirely agree with what you wrote I appreciate your point of view. You wrote that "it's reasonable to start from a position of there not being a creator". I am not saying that that is an unreasonable position, but it is, in fact, a philosophical assumption, as is the starting point of belief in an intelligent creator. We make deductions from the study of empirical data, and the deduction of "intelligence" behind the emergence of life is a perfectly reasonable interpretation based on the empirical evidence of complexity. It is an assumption, of course, but, in my view, a very sound assumption.

    I am well aware that there are people who angrily dismiss this argument, but they do so not by recourse to reason, but by appealing to emotion. There is nothing inherently illogical about the "intelligence" explanation. Those who insist that all scientific explanations must be naturalistic are not operating as scientists but as philosophers. Even if science discovered a mechanism by which non-living matter could create life and sustain it for millions of years in a hostile environment (a very big "if"), that still does not prove that life emerged by purely natural means. Such an explanation can only remain in the realm of speculation. Even Prof. Dawkins acknowledges that life is highly improbable, and therefore to believe a more improbable explanation for the emergence of life over a less improbable is only possible if you are committed to a particular philosophical position which rules out the more probable explanation.

    Naturalism has to come to terms with its own materialistic determinism. On what basis do we "think" at all, if our thoughts are nothing more than the product of atoms and molecules in our brain? On what basis can anyone be considered "deranged", since evolution has made them that way? In what sense can we talk about "truth" and "falsehood" at all? If evolution has made creationists the way they are, then in what sense are they "wrong", since they are simply part of the evolutionary process? If purely naturalistic macro-evolution is true then creationists are only creationists because they naturally feel that that enhances their prospects for survival. That is the way natural selection works. There is no "right or wrong" about it. (You will have probably guessed that I don't accept this interpretation of reality). But naturalism should only operate according to its own internal rules - not something that, in my view, it is able to do.

    In an act of generosity towards an opponent of the Christian faith I will quote Friedrich Nietzsche: "There are no facts, only interpretations". There is a lot of truth in that statement, and both atheophobes and atheophiles would do well to think about it.

    (By the way, OT, you're absolutely spot on in what you wrote in #37: "There is simply data/evidence and it is what world view you bring to the table which decides how you interpret it."

    This is exactly what CS Lewis was saying, so my mention of him was not an argument from authority - as you put it - but a simple statement of fact open to discussion and analysis.)

  • Comment number 41.


    "There is simply data/evidence and it is what world view you bring to the table which decides how you interpret it."

    Nonsense. In some cases where the evidence is ambiguous it can be claimed by both sides, but that is not ordinarily the case.

    Let's consider the evidence of vestigial organs, or the very direct evidence of human evolution in the fusion of human chromosome #2 from two ancestor chromosomes, or the evidence from dating, or the evidence in the fossil record, or the evidence in genome mapping (which paints a very clear picture of human ancestry).

    Each of those cases constitutes evidence for evolution, and only the most inventive, somersaulting gymnastics of creationist rhetoric could "interpret" them differently. In the case of human chromosome #2, for example, the creationist must argue that for some reason God chose to create human chromosome #2 to make it look as though it were the result of a fusion between two ancestor chromosomes. No amount of interpretation can make something so square fit in such a perfect round hole.

    I'm afraid there comes a point at which an alternative theory is just not tenable anymore. That point came a long time ago for creationism.


  • Comment number 42.

    What every body can be sure about without a doubt is that Christianity is a joke. Since there apears to be no other religions trying to scam their faith here i will leave it at that.

  • Comment number 43.

    LSV, once again you have either skilfully evaded my point, or cluelessly not even recognised it. We have hypotheses and we have data. In science, we relate the data to the hypotheses and see whether they *explain* the data or not. It is not the sort of vague hand-wavey armchair process you seem to think it is.

    NO scientist brings an a priori assumption that there IS NO great pixie interfering with the world. We do NOT "start with this assumption" - it doesn't even enter the equation. I don't even really CARE if there is a space pixie - it is irrelevant. We have data, and my job, as a scientist, is to come up with an explanation FOR THOSE DATA. If you just say "Fred did it" (to follow A.C. Grayling), that is no help to me. Yeah, sure, maybe Fred did it, but I want a BETTER explanation. What if Fred *didn't* do it - can we explain the data without recourse to Fred? As it turns out, in general we can, and this process (sorry to crow over abject religious failure) have been very very successful. So successful, in fact, that to invoke Fred, while not impossible per se, is a mark of supreme cowardice and arrogance. Far better to treat the unknown as a "black box", and see if we can devise ways of unpacking it in the future, than to triumphantly parade the Works of Fred, only to look like silly twits further down the line, like the creationists, when it is shown that Fred hadn't anything to do with it.

    I know your jejune philosophy requires you to assert that nonsense; just don't expect the rest of us to swallow it. If there is a god, then I have absolutely no problem with it. But I don't need it, and I refuse to dishonour any god that might potentially exist by making truly rubbish arguments for it, and calling it "apologetics". I appreciate that the likes of Lewis or Craig or Plantinga or Swinburne have no such qualms or standards, and I would imagine that any hypothetical god probably has the same low opinion of them that I do.

  • Comment number 44.

    Response to post 35
    'In science you need to state your hypothesis and relate the evidence to your hypothesis to see whether it supports it or otherwise. "Prior assumptions" are actually very peripheral to all this.'
    I say you are wrong about assumptions...
    'I simply do not accept this "I look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions" bunkum - and bunkum it is.'
    I say you are wrong and also speaking 'bunkum' as you childishly put it....
    'Anyone who comes out with this is - at best - just LAZY....It is undisciplined, it is intellectually cowardly, it is simply moronic.'
    More assumptions and vindictive accusations and again, I say you are wrong and will continue to say you are wrong...

  • Comment number 45.

    #43 - helio -

    "Yeah, sure, maybe Fred did it, but I want a BETTER explanation."

    Thank you for your highly lyrical response. Very entertaining.

    Please define what you mean by "better" (and no cheating allowed, by appealing to any a priori philosophical assumption - you are a scientist remember. No value judgments are allowed to cloud your "objective" analysis of the data).

    I wait with bated breath....

  • Comment number 46.

    #42
    "What every body can be sure about without a doubt is that Christianity is a joke."

    What a cracker quote - without a doubt! Aah, the evolution of thinking-atheism - makes me rationally reject the Christian faith - not! Ever thought about writing it on a sandwich board and walking up and down Royal Avenue?

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes some very bright people believe the descriptions of creation given in their preferred holy book. One explanation is that they reserve a compartment in their consciousness that they do not subject to reason. It is as if the temporary suspension of disbelief that is necessary for any of us to enjoy a novel or a film is made permanent. Were the intelligent believer to subject his faith to reason it would of course crumble, I suspect that sub-consciously he knows this and so has to make his faith a no-go area for intelligent enquiry.

  • Comment number 48.

    FP, I'm glad you're entertained. It would be a bonus if you were capable of being *informed*, but it's probably best not to get our hopes up.

    LSV, by "better" explanation, I mean an explanation that actually EXPLAINS something. Let me illustrate. You COULD say that the tides are caused by Fred magically pulling up and pushing down the water level in the sea. That would be an "explanation" for sure, but it's not a very good one. It is not very good because it doesn't help us understand things, and also it presupposes both the existence and active arbitrary intervention of Fred. Maybe it's true. Who knows? However, a BETTER explanation is the dynamic gravitational action of the sun/earth/moon system - this theory allows us to make predictions and learn stuff. It is not only more satisfying, but we can gather other data to support it.

    None of that disproves the Fred "theory", but the Fred theory can quite easily be seen to be a ridiculous ad hoc notion that requires more to explain it than it actually explains in the first place.

    Questions about the origin of life & the universe etc are PRECISELY the same. And even when we do not know the answer (or, more correctly, the FULL answer), there are still no grounds for bringing Fred into the picture. Fred is not a hypothesis of last resort - you need specific direct evidence.

    As for creationism, it is perhaps a little unfair to suggest that it does not contain some scientifically testable hypotheses. It does. The hypothesis of a 6000 year-old universe is valid as it stands, but is readily refutable. The Universe is NOT 6000 years old. That is a dead hypothesis. "Scientists" can NOT state that they "look at the evidence in a different way" or "bring different assumptions" and pretend that the nonsense of a 6000YOU remains intact. The only assumption that you need to work with is an assumption that the truth has some value, and lies should be expunged.

    Creationism is a lie. It does not matter whether some of the people passing on the untruth actually *believe* it - humans can be stupid and lazy animals, in case you have not noticed. Some creationists think they are acting in good faith; they think that the sort of armchair belly-rubbing "philosophy" that you seem to enjoy actually give them some support in their ludicrous beliefs. Well, it doesn't. The reality is much more enthralling and interesting. The world is a beautiful place, and when people cast off the old superstitious ways of looking at it, it's the proverbial scales falling from the eyes.

    Don't stop in Damascus - keep moving North. It gets better!

  • Comment number 49.

    GCD, one of the interesting things is how these folks build their wee firewalls around those compartments. LSV is a good example - sophistry and verbage is difficult jungle to hack through, but it is ultimately fluff. Scientists generally recognise that, but just like some bacteria surround themselves with the dead and dying corpses of their ancestors, and gradually build up a little nest, safe from the immune system, so creationists surround themselves with decaying philobabble from the likes of Lennox, Craig, Plantinga, and even snippets from *competent* philosophers like Karl Popper, as well as quotes mined from real scientists, taken out of context, or hideously garbled.

    It is all exceptionally dishonest, and if OT is right about one thing, it is that many scientists started off as Christians, who valued TRUTH, and wanted to get rid of error. But that means that instead of regarding doubt as a *bad* thing, it is a *good* thing. In science, doubt is SYSTEMATIC. You NEED it, and very valuable it has proved.

  • Comment number 50.

    A bad gospel joke

    And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. John 14:13-14

    It would be funny to see an atheist sandwich board carnival march up Royal avenue.

  • Comment number 51.

    Helio

    The reason you are so emotionally committed to evolution is because your entire worldview hinges on it. No evolution, athiesim is suddenly a very shaky proposition.

    That is your prejudice you bring to the table.


    Marshall does not refute my point. You say trial by fire is good science?

    Is that why he endured such heavy duty smear tactics for his science?

    Is that why Francis Collins endured such heavy duty smear tactics?

    Yes Marshall made his point in the end; but my point is simply that the dominant view in any field will not go down without a dirty fight if there is money and power involved.

    And how many times has a dominant view never gone down at all when it should have? nobody can say.

    But we can say it is absolute nonsense to suggest that it is irrelvant in science as to whether a controversial view is held by a weak minority or a powerful majority. If it suddenly becomes the majority view, it is no longer controversial.

    It is religious prejudice by scientists that refuses to allow ID credibility as a proto-hypothesis.

    Proof? Please give me an objective scientific definition of the term "supernatural" which we must keep out of science. It cant be done because everything beyond our current understanding of nature is in fact supernatural, of course.


    However, who is to say that evolution is not currently going down, but not without a fight? Over half the UK pop now believe in some form of ID, it appears.


    Your arguments, Helio, are 100% rhetoric.

    When I have duelled on this blog on any concrete examples I have won;-

    * Feathers;- After lengthy investigation nobody could provide any actual evidence of their evolution - an argument from silence! As from Dr Klaver.

    * Human body hair as per John Wright, who claimed it was vestigal. Turned out current science holds that its purpose is to diffuse hormone secretions.

    * Vas deferens - John Wright said it was vestigal in humans, but it turned out that even rats have exactly the same design.


    Now to the phylogenic tree Helio. If you are going to bite back you are going to have to chew on something solid, not thin-air rhetoric.

    Can someone please explain to me how evolution is a rock solid theory in light of the phylogenic tree? Lets all admit it. It is actually looking very much like an argument from silence.

    In reality, the actual evidence shows yawning chasms in animals types between;-

    * Insects
    * Fish
    * Plants
    * Birds
    * Reptiles
    * Mammals
    * Bacteria etc etc

    In other words, evolution can be argued as being a massive argument from silence ie the silent chasms between these animal types.

    Here is what Enclyopaedia Britannica says about the phylogenic tree, and feel free to give your opinion about why it is so convincing in favour of either evolution or creationism.


    Enc Brit article;-

    (My emphasis added)

    Phylogeny
    the history of the evolution of a species or group, especially in reference to lines of descent and relationships among broad groups of organisms.

    Fundamental to phylogeny is the >>>proposition>>is nearly always incomplete, for the vast majority of species that have ever lived have become extinct, and relatively few of their remains have been preserved>>speculation>>at least in principle>>propositions

    Biologists who >>>postulate

    The earliest organisms were >>>probably>>random>>supposed>>not certain


    Cyanobacteria (sometimes called the blue-green algae) are >>>thought

    After the cyanobacteria there appeared an extensive array of algae, molds, protozoans, plants, and animals. Three groups of algae can be dismissed with passing mention, as they arose from >>>uncertain>>suggest>>unknown

    Land plants contain two major groups, bryophytes and tracheophytes, which differ in many ways but which share distinctive characteristics for adaptation to dry land. These include the housing of the plant embryo in maternal tissue.

    Bryophytes are descended from green algae and include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. Only small quantities of water are needed for their reproduction, so that the sperm may travel to the eggs. The fertilized egg matures within the maternal tissue. The plant is protected from dessication by a waxy cuticle. Bryophytes have >>>apparently>>seem

    All the dominant plants on Earth are included in the tracheophytes. The tracheophytes' development of large plant bodies has been made possible by having vascular parts that carry water and food inside these plants, and by a dominant sporophyte stage with a microscopic-sized gametophyte. Tracheophytes' tissues have differentiated into leaves, stems, and roots, and in the highest plants seeds and flowers are featured.

    In explaining the evolution of tracheophytes, it has been >>>suggested

    >>>The problem of the origin of multicellular animals>>theory>>presumed>>theory hypothesizes>>No decisive information, however, yet exists to sustain either contention


    Two current >>>theories postulate>>suggests>>theory

    Humans are included in the chordates. Three basic structures are shared by all chordates: a dorsal nerve tube (brain and spinal cord in vertebrates); a notochord (supporting rod under the nerve tube); and a pharynx perforated bygill slits, at least during the embryonic stage.

    The history of evolution is full of examples of primitive groups giving rise to more advanced groups, but it should be noted that it is the more primitive and less specialized members of a group—not the advanced members—that produce new groups. For example, birds and mammals arose not from advanced reptiles but from primitive, unspecialized reptiles.

    The data and conclusions of phylogeny show clearly that the world of life is the product of a historical process of evolution and that degrees of resemblance within and between groups correspond to degrees of relationship by descent from common ancestors.

    ENDS/////////////////////////



    Helio, you affirm with absolute certainty that Christ is not God and yet never stoop to justify your certainty. You seem to bring the same attitude to this field.

    I am not claiming any certainty about ID/creationism, but I am claiming that there is certainly room for a conversation about credible rival theories.

    In theoretical physics there are many exotic ideas treated with huge respect without any real credible evidence.


    LSV - sorry to misrep you about CS Lewis. He was obviously getting quite sceptical about evolution at the end. But he was certain that science was going through many distortions to keep God well and truly outside.



    Sincerely

    OT

    PS Helio, I think it could be a mistake to conflate a youth earth viewpoint with creationism/ID. Many people who do not believe in evolution do not believe in a young earth.







  • Comment number 52.



    I'm sorry, that excerpt from Enc Brit phylogenic tree is not very clear.

    What I have tried to emphasise is the amount of speculate, assumption and uncertainty in how evolution is supposed to operate.

    Some might call these arguments from silence.

    In any event, I suggest there is room for rival theories.

    OT

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Try explaining the human Alu element, or homologous endogenous retroviruses in the hominid/primate lineage using a creation model. In fact try to refute any of the evidence acquired using molecular genetics.

    Hardly room for interpretation and different "paradigms" or points of view.

    I expect a parsimonious answer with bated breath OT.

  • Comment number 56.

    Oh dear - it would appear that my removed post slighted a number of people who are prominent cdesign proponentsists. I have edited it, and here it is, cleaned up, and any criticism of these people can be reasonably inferred, rather than me having to spell it out.
    ---

    OT, yes, I know many creationists realise the stupidity of the "Answers in Genesis" view of a young universe (say 6KY). Of course, Ken Ham is quite correct to point out that once you ditch that particular vapid absurdity, the whole lot goes down the pan. What is sad is to see people scrabbling about trying to rescue bits of Genesis as "science", when all it is is folklore. It has NOTHING to say about origins; it is pure myth.

    Now, as to your rather mangled attempt to use EncBrit to support your claims, you need to perhaps read a bit more widely in the scientific literature AND my own posts. Doubt, as I mentioned before, is SYSTEMATIC. We talk in terms of propositions and probabilities; you are making a MASSIVE error if you think this means we secretly think that the ID-creationist piffle has any merit. Merit has to be EARNED (as the H.pylori story demonstrates very well. There were no smears, btw - that is your fantasy).

    Let me further clarify. I cannot prove that life was not intelligently designed. That life might have been "intelligently designed" is in principle a valid hypothesis so far as it goes. However, those who claim that it WAS (i.e. those who put forward the hypothesis) have consistently lied and misrepresented both the data and the theoretical basis of evolution, not to support *their* claims, but to undermine the scientific position. The problem is that they have NO data to support their contentions, other than the fact of life itself (which is of course very complex - we know that, duh), and their criticisms of evolution are WRONG. They are false. They are *demonstrably* false.

    Now, you have a choice - you can align yourself with people like Behe, Dembski, Fuller and so forth, who DO NOT UNDERSTAND EVOLUTION (and I say that quite deliberately; they either misunderstand it in general, or they dissemble, and treat a ridiculous straw man version of evolution; either way, they have no credit), or you can keep your mind open and try to understand how we REALLY think evolution works. Because it is quite beautiful and wonderful. Very very different from the ugly hopeless sludge that is intelligent design. ID hasn't had a hearing? It had a hearing for 1800 years, and FAILED.

    I do not need evolution in order to "shore up my atheism". I am an atheist because I am a systematic doubter. If there is a god, well and good. I don't have a problem with that. That's interesting, and I would like to probe it with my proton beam scanner. But don't ask me to *believe* in one - that is a fool's game. And in particular, don't ask me to believe it is responsible for things that we KNOW occur by natural processes, such as evolution.

    Pick up your game, please.

  • Comment number 57.

    Why does OT not come out as a pastor, is it because it will show up the stupid tricks that creationists use to try and made an excuse for faith?

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Interesting Peter. I am glad to hear that some of the Christians here have been distancing themselves from him. This dirty, dishonest, tactic that a lot of young earth creationists use by pretending that what they say is based on science while deliberately hiding the fact that they secretly believe in yec is all they have got left.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.


    PeterK,

    Hi.

    This issue relating to OT's identity has gone quite far enough. As you know, I would prefer it if everyone here posted comments using their real name, but OT is not the only one unknown to me, and unknown he is. I do not know who OT is, and nor do you. You think you have suspicions, but they are irrelevant and have been denied and it is only fair to OT, whoever he is, a Derry church pastor and that pastor's wife, who as far as we know has never posted on W&T, that everyone on here accepts the situation as it is.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hello petermorrow,

    I typed post 62 while yours hadn't appeared yet. It wasn't intentional timing.:)

    I'll be going scuba diving for some weeks tomorrow, so rest assured, I won't making posts of whatever nature for while.

  • Comment number 64.

    To get back to the original topic......our own local young Earth creationist organisation's committee contains quite a number of highly qualified individuals, and several with PhDs into the bargain:

    http://www.creationoutreachministries.com/com_committee.htm

    Also caught the BBC's excellent series on the cell this evening, and why biologists now have undeniable proof of common decent. How and why a well qualified biologist, such as Prof. Nevin for example, can sit and ignore such evidence is beyond me.

  • Comment number 65.

    In any event, I suggest there is room for rival theories.

    This is not a debate within science OT.

    That the Earth is 4.55 billion years old and not 6,000 is not open to discussion, purely and simply because there is no evidence for the latter. That is why a 6,000 year old Earth, 6/24 hr creation, and a global flood, are not taught in any school, college or university the length and breadth of the UK, or the rest of the world for that matter(except in idiot America).

  • Comment number 66.

    PeterH, among that crowd of jokers that comprise Cretin Outreach Ministries, there is only one PhD, and that is in the unrelated field of Engineering. There's a Biotechnology undergrad, who is apparently working towards a PhD in parasitology (perhaps he recognises the irreducible complexity of the nasty trypanosome; I wonder who designed *that*?!), but that's about it. Oh, and there is a junior medical doctor on there too, who qualified last year. The others have very few qualifications.

    So, it's not really true to say that these guys have "quite a number of highly-qualified individuals" - their makeup is distinctly unimpressive (very male - where are the girlies?), and it is very unclear from their website as to what research they are carrying out into fields such as the age of the Earth, the processes by which evolution occurs, how the inconsistencies in the folklore collection of Genesis enhance our understanding of Iron Age culture in the Middle East, etc. One-dimensional tosh.

    But there is always the danger of the *reverse* argument from authority. The fact that very few, if any, have *relevant* qualifications does not necessarily make their arguments irrelevant. What makes their arguments irrelevant is that the arguments are inconsistent, they do not address the core theoretical understanding of biology, and they are typically based on a misunderstanding of what the bible *is* (see the "Statement of Faith" - a ridiculous litany if ever there was one).

    It is good to know that some Christians are keeping an eye on these people. I would encourage that.

  • Comment number 67.

    PS, PK, re PT & PICC, LOL!

  • Comment number 68.

    51. At 11:17am on 19 Aug 2009, Orthodox-tradition wrote
    When I have duelled on this blog on any concrete examples I have won;-

    This neatly sums up the dilemma, you have “won” because you believe you have won, not because you have deployed an argument that can be tested. This is the believer get out clause.

    I have no science qualifications and only a lay person’s knowledge of it. I stopped believing in god aged about 11, not because I had the skills to challenge it with science but because it just seemed silly. A few years previously I had stopped believing that Santa brought my xmas presents. What is interesting about this comparison is that for a little while after I knew the provenance of my presents I continued to half believe in Santa, I fooled myself for a bit longer because it was nice. Orthodox-tradition I am afraid that is the state you are still in.

  • Comment number 69.

    There are few Dr Creationists and they are afflicted by a condition called being deranged.

    What every body can be sure about without a doubt is that Christianity is a joke. Since there apears to be no other religions trying to scam their faith here i will leave it at that.

    Don't you just love the comments from some of the Atheists! I've met some so called christians in my time who were pompous and arrogant about their faith and traditions, but you guys take egotism to a whole different level.

  • Comment number 70.

    cretinoutreachministries haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (evil laugh)



    howmanymiles glad to hear you love the comments.


    Back to Dawkins video, Excellent description of how childhood indoctrination wrecks a mind to such an extent that when faced with the facts they have almost no impact. Shows you what damage the religious Sunday schools for children are doing.





  • Comment number 71.

    The Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man"



  • Comment number 72.

    That is why a 6,000 year old Earth, 6/24 hr creation, and a global flood, are not taught in any school, college or university the length and breadth of the UK, or the rest of the world for that matter(except in idiot America).

    Peter, as an American, I quite agree; we're a nation of imbeciles - but I'm disheartened to see Creationists and Christian apologists posting their arguments here. I've been led to believe you lot are above that.

    If I wanted to hear Christians mangling science, I could stay home!

    (Also, our trolls at least know how to use HTML codes to italicize quotes!)

  • Comment number 73.


    "as an American, I quite agree; we're a nation of imbeciles - but I'm disheartened to see Creationists and Christian apologists posting their arguments here. I've been led to believe you lot are above that."

    Jeff, as a visitor to your great country having lived here for the past 5 years I am inclined to disagree with you. Yes, there are areas in the United States which want their schools to spew creationist garbage, but as you should know America is a very diverse, varied culture from place to place and there are plenty of places which would be even less inclined than the UK to do so, and that fact shouldn't be ignored. America cannot be reduced to a simple singular assessment; it is a complicated spectrum, from extreme to extreme, of everything, and it is the best of everything as well as the worst.


  • Comment number 74.

    Creationism taught in the schools in the US? I have doubts given that there have been a large number of cases about this in the US Supreme Court. All have ruled it to be illegal.

  • Comment number 75.

    we're a nation of imbeciles

    Here in Norn' Iron Jeff, we're just as bad, worse possibly. However, schools have the national curriculum to fall back on and whether they(the YECs) like it or not, state schools must abide by this, despite Philip Bell and Paul Taylor of CMI and AiG attempting to do otherwise. I notice Bell in visiting some state schools in the Fivemiletown area in a couple of weeks (along with QUB).

    Still, we have nothing like Ham's crazy museum, or Cedarville/Liberty Univerities. The closest we have in the UK is Sylvia Baker's creationist schools in England, although even these have to teach evolutionary science.

  • Comment number 76.


    See, the difference in the U.S. - widely misunderstood by those in Europe - is the system of government which allows local jurisdictions much more power in deciding how they want their societies to run. So you can go to one state and find a place that's very friendly to traditional fundamentalist Christians and very hostile to liberal, gay artists, for example. But you could also go to places that are exactly the opposite, and most places are somewhere in between. The rule of law begins with the city, then the county, then the state, then the feds, and that's a HUGE plus. But it also makes it possible for people to point to a tiny jurisdiction in America which has made an idiotic decision and say that "In America" they do such and such. It's a horrible mischaracterization. And Smithborough is right to say that courts have generally sided with science.


  • Comment number 77.

    PeterH, OMG - first Fivemiletown - tomorrow, THE WORLD!!

    ;-)

    -H

  • Comment number 78.

    See, the difference in the U.S. - widely misunderstood by those in Europe - is the system of government which allows local jurisdictions much more power in deciding how they want their societies to run. So you can go to one state and find a place that's very friendly to traditional fundamentalist Christians and very hostile to liberal, gay artists, for example. But you could also go to places that are exactly the opposite, and most places are somewhere in between.

    It isn't even that easy to break down. You can come to Boston, where I live, which is perceived as being irredeemably liberal, then go fifteen, twenty miles out of town and find yourself in red-statish territory. And our small towns in rural New England (again - you guys want it back?) are as regressive as anything you'll find in the South - although, mercifully, without the heat.

    Plus, the evangelicals' influence is spreading. Even in school districts populated largely by liberals, some teachers are afraid to teach about evolution. They haven't been challenged, but, if there is even one parent who is going to make trouble - they don't want to chance it.

    Another factor - Texas, which is insanity's home state, is the nation's largest purchaser of textbooks. Publishers tailor their books to the Texas market - and, as you may be aware, there is overwhelming pressure in Texas right now to include creationism in science classrooms. The governor appointed a hard-core YEC to head up the Texas school board, and, when the state legislature defied him and forced the fellow out, the gov retaliated by appointing someone even crazier. They won't stop there; they intend fully to "reclaim this nation for Jesus". You have no idea what we're dealing with over here. Anyway, my point is that school books across the nation are going to be "dumbed down" because of this.

    Finally - in the South and the Midwest, public school administrators tend to behave like tinpot dictators and routinely ignore federal law. There are public schools that shamelessly promote the evangelical world view. If anyone complains about the legality, they're simply told, "This isn't America; it's [insert municipality of choice]!" No one does anything about it, because everyone is afraid. The reason the Dover trial went our way is because it took place in Pennsylvania.

  • Comment number 79.


    Jeff- The point is in America you're free to move somewhere which reflects your values, and because of the diversity those places aren't hard to find.


  • Comment number 80.

    PeterH, OMG - first Fivemiletown - tomorrow, THE WORLD

    I know Helio.

    Stand by for a flare up in Lisburn next month as well, since Taylor's back. You know what happened the last time. Ian Derthal man, and all that type of thing ! Amazing that one of our local politicians managed to completely stump Richard Dawkins:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGF2AxlQsYE

  • Comment number 81.

    Erm helio...

    Your PICC has been mentioned on The Panda's Thumb.

    Kudos.

  • Comment number 82.

    HowManyMiles

    You thought my sermons were boring and unpleasant in High School! You're getting the taste of Atheistic sermonising here.
    At the same time, Helio and a lot of the others are open to discussion and debate. A bit of humour goes along way, and if you roll with the punches, you can have a very good discussion, and learn a lot too.

    There are one or two guys who just like throwing out insults. (Like one who asks for a simple logical argument and then can't even recognise a disjunctive syllogism. I wouldn't expect many people to recognise a disjunctive syllogism, but when they ask for simple logical steps...).

    Anyway, don't take *everyone* on first impressions. A lot of the skeptics here are good guys, and good fun.

    Your life long friend
    Graham

  • Comment number 83.

    Graham, you and PeterM belong with us lads.
    You know it! ;-)
    -H

  • Comment number 84.

    ref post 56 Helio
    I am just a layperson, but I am wondering if evolution is in practise, only accepted as a dominant and widespread argument from authority.
    What I mean by this is that if the origin of the species was published today, I dont think it would be accepted as valid science, because it is just so thin on conclusive evidence. Darwin admitted this as the greaest weakness in it but said he hoped the fossil record would vindicate him later. It it widely accepted it didnt.
    I refer you back to your post 56 Helio. Just because you are a professional in medical genetics, you think you can talk about "scientific literature" and everyone will roll over and accept evolution as unassailable fact? Even Dawkins doesnt go that far. He accepts it may be overthrown some day.
    It appears to me that if ANYONE here on this blog started from scratch and tried to present evidence to a layperson to convince them that evolution was an unassailable fact...they would fail miserably. Macro evolution has never been observed, just surmised.
    Helio, there is the gauntlet thrown down.
    Stop the insults and patronising ad hominems.
    Roll out your best evidence for macro evolution in language that a layperson can understand.
    Anyone else is welcome to join in. Pincess News Junkie???? GCDavis? Or do your abilities stop at sneering???

    That goes for you too Geneboy. Stop your sneering put your gloves on and get into the ring. I'm waiting.
    Put forward your best shot to prove macroevolutuion in a way that could convince a layperson.
    There is far too much argument from authority in the form of intentionally and needlessly technical language, used here to intimidate people and cover your tracks. Yes I am looking at you Geneboy.
    If you cant explain an idea in plain language then you either dont understand it or you are trying to hide something.


    Helio said;-

    Now, as to your rather mangled attempt to use EncBrit to support your claims, you need to perhaps read a bit more widely in the scientific literature AND my own posts. Doubt, as I mentioned before, is SYSTEMATIC. We talk in terms of propositions and probabilities; you are making a MASSIVE error if you think this means we secretly think that the ID-creationist piffle has any merit. Merit has to be EARNED (as the H.pylori story demonstrates very well. There were no smears, btw - that is your fantasy).
    I say;
    Helio, sounds impressive but you didnt even mention the explicit and persistent speculation in the phylogenic tree. I dont go in for slight of hand card tricks. bite the bullet and explain why this is so unclear.

    Helio said;-

    Let me further clarify. I cannot prove that life was not intelligently designed. That life might have been "intelligently designed" is in principle a valid hypothesis so far as it goes. However, those who claim that it WAS (i.e. those who put forward the hypothesis) have consistently lied and misrepresented both the data and the theoretical basis of evolution, not to support *their* claims, but to undermine the scientific position. The problem is that they have NO data to support their contentions, other than the fact of life itself (which is of course very complex - we know that, duh), and their criticisms of evolution are WRONG. They are false. They are *demonstrably* false.

    I respond;- Nice try Helio. Again, this is thin air rhetoric.
    This thread has been entitled "Some creationists have been doctored" as a smirking underhand sneer at the integrity of creationists with phds. Fair enough. Big boys rules.
    But the author of that headline will NEVER have the courage to debate me head on in this thread to see just how certain they are of evolution.
    I think a follow-up thread could be called;
    "SOME SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN EVOLUTIONISTS".
    Because of course, from the dawn of science in ancient civilisations, science was always considered, roughly speaking, to be the study of the uniformity of natural causes in an open system/supernatural world.
    ie from the dawn of science right through the scientific revolution, NO SCIENTISTS BELIEVED IN EVOLUTION. It has only really been secured in place in that last 100-200 years.
    But the normal position of the scientific revolution was actually young earth creationism. Shock!!
    Only the PHILOSOPHICAL churnings of the enlightenment later put the onus on me to prove God. Read that again Helio.
    The fact that you press me to prove God ID creationism is a philsophical trick unknown to the giants of science who conceived and built all your foundations of modern science. It certainly proves that YEC scientists have an unrivalled record in breaking new scientiific ground. Indisputable fact.
    Even today, Gould said some 50% of his colleagues believed in theistic evolution ie that God caused the big bang, ordered the universe and its laws, created life on earth and upholds the stability of the universe ie ALL SUPERNATURALLY.
    So, in the history of science, Helio, that puts you as a strict materialist in a very small minority of scientists. And me in with he majority.
    And with the regular radical theory change of science, who knows what the accepted position will be on human origins in 100 years. Perhaps something quite different to either of our positions?
    If evolution is your article of faith, that will probably anger you.
    The fact that Francis Collins and others endure massive personal attacks for science is evidence enough that scientists must think very carefully before they come out and admit belief in ID/creationist for the sake of their jobs. The heated personal attacks, which nobody can deny happen, are evidence enough to suggest that many creationist/ID scientists will prefer to keep their heads down.
    Now, who has the guts to step up to the mark and PROVE macroevolution in layman's terms to all the readers?
    We're waiting
    ;-)
    sincerely
    OT
    PS I have no beef whatsoever with theistic evolutionists BTW, I fully respect their faith and viewpoints. I just dont like athiestic bullies who try to close down free speech and thought with ad hominem attacks. Especially when they actually believe that their insults are valid as actual arguments. Yes Shane, I am talking to you!

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Peter Henderson says this is not a debate within science. How does he define science? If scientists debate origins isnt that a debate?

    GC Davis and Princess News Junkie both express searing insults and opinions. I always think this underlines a lack of confidence in their positions. Otherwise, please engage in discussion. BTW, I only became a Christian as an adult. No childhood indoctrination there.

    Peter Morrow. Thanks. I assure you I am not the person I am accused of and I think it unfair that he is constantly libelled on this blog when he is not here to defend himself.

  • Comment number 85.

    BTW Helio

    You take issue with having your post censored. Just for the record I dont know if anyone noticed this but it would appear there was a change on this blog some months ago were it switched from reactive moderation to post moderation ie it used to be posts were only reviewed if there was a complaint, but now they are actually ALL reviewed by moderators.

    This seems to have cooincided with much suspicion on this blog about who was complaining about postings. Perhaps this explains the mystery.

    Perhaps it is ironic that those most adamantly defending orthodox science are the ones using the most underhand debating tactics and therefore falling foul of the moderators most.

    Says something about their confidence in their position??

    ;-)


    * Pre-moderation - every single message is checked before it appears on the board. All of the BBC's children's message boards are supervised in this way.

    * Post-moderation - all messages appear on the board first and are checked afterwards. Most BBC message boards are supervised in this way.

    * Reactive moderation - messages are only checked if a complaint is made about them. This approach is only used on boards for adults.

  • Comment number 86.

    OT

    I got a C in Chemistry, failed Biology but got it at nightschool. Didnt even attempt Physics. I scraped through Maths and Arithmetic, how I'll never know because they bored me to death. Then did six years Philosophy and Theology and was ordained.

    So I'll answer you from the point of view of the Bible, and totally exclude science.

    Stop talking mince. Amen.

  • Comment number 87.

    OT - there's nothing there even worth responding to. If you want to find out about evolution (and I really mean *find out*, rather than blether on), I would encourage you to read Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution is True". There really is too much to put on Will's blog. I'm sorry you think he is sneering at Creationists with PhDs, but really, you haven't learnt very much from the previous ongoing discussions, nor have you taken on board the point about doubt being systematic in the sciences. As we have worked outwards in science, we have got to a position where we can really engage questions of origins - these were vistas previously inaccessible to these giants of science. Those giants gave us an upsy, to be sure, but they got a lot of things wrong, and from where we are now, we can see more clearly. The glass is not as dark as it was for the ancients.

    I'm all for Christians and others having a look at the real evidence. When they do, and particularly if they are given the freedom to do so, without religious bullying from the likes of "Creation Outreach Ministries", they will see the beauty of biology, and the truly elegant theoretical framework of evolution that underpins our understanding of it. It will enhance their enjoyment of this incredible universe. It can't not do so.

    BTW, wrt the moderation, I found out that my post got yanked because in one I linked to an off-site PDF, which isn't allowed, and in another, I stated an opinion about some punters who *don't* get on this blog that was considered by the mods to be potentially defamatory, and I would hate to have to go through the sort of persecution Simon Singh is suffering from malicious and litigious people. I'm not on pre-moderation *yet*!

    Have a nice weekend :-)
    -H

  • Comment number 88.



    OK so Helio and RJB have already chickened out.

    I like this bit from Helio best "there's nothing there even worth responding to" regarding my last post.

    I can just see the sweat forming on his brow, his pulse rising and his silent prayer to...well nobody actually... that everyone else on this blog actually believes him!

    ;-)

    So, the challenge remains.

    Who here is going to try and prove macro evolution in layman's terms on this blog???

    The next person who refers me to a book or a hyperline will get a rap across the knuckle fyi!

    ;-)

    OT

  • Comment number 89.



    OK another chance for Helio to engage.

    Helio, please define "supernatural" scientifically so we know why it is excluded from science.

    Please do not give an athiest's arbitrary religious prejudiced definition.

    That aint science.

    Supernatural special creation is the foundation of all modern science.

  • Comment number 90.


    OT asks "Who here is going to try and prove macro evolution in layman's terms on this blog?"

    I will, I will!

    Okay, so everyone here knows that humans have 46 chromosomes, 23 from your mother, 23 from your father. (Everyone, I assume, is happy that every human has both a mother and a father, coherent with what science teaches us - but not Christianity, which claims Jesus only had a mother. Anyway.)

    The problem with the claim that we share common ancestry with the great apes is that the great apes have 48 chromosomes, not 46. So the claim of evolution is falsifiable; in other words if there isn't a reason found for the difference in the number of chromosomes then evolution is false. We test it in the field of human genetics, where we can examine the chromosomes in detail and find out what explains this difference. If we don't find this evidence then evolution cannot be true. If we do find it, then it is direct evidence for common ancestry and thus evolution is true.

    The perfect litmus test!

    Well, just like eviction night on Big Brother, the results are in, and someone is going home. Who will it be, creationists or evolutionists?! PINS AND NEEDLES!

    A piece of evidence has been found. What is it? Does it verify the claims of evolution or does it fail to show evidence of common ancestry? ............... And the evidence is... human chromosome #2, which shows that a fusion took place between two ancestor chromosomes, leaving the markers found at the end of chromosomes in the middle instead - unique - and proving that these were once two separate chromosomes. Which means we once had 48, sharing ancestry with the great apes, and proving the claims of evolution!

    The smoking gun! Irrefutable evidence! Undeniable truth!

    And the creationist goes home.


  • Comment number 91.


    By the way, you wonder what separates us from the great apes most of all, our morality, our belief systems, our reasoning? In fact it is our intelligence, which research indicates derive directly from chromosome #2 and which makes possible morality, belief and reasoning... and all because a chromosome fused. If it had never fused, we'd be just like the bonobos, living in trees and eating bark.

    (And the creationist goes home.)


  • Comment number 92.

    Er, John, yes - human Chromosome 2 is lovely, and indeed I would argue that the architecture of the genome is irrefutable evidence of evolution, but there is no point in trying to edumacate OT. His wee mind is made up. You are not dealing with a rational being. However, I really do need to take issue with you for implying that the ch2 fusion event was CAUSAL to the enormous increase in human intelligence (OT excepted har har). We see such fusions and translocations and such all the time in the "normal" extant human population; many are entirely harmless, e.g. the 13;14 translocation, although they're often associated with an increased rate of miscarriage, so generally only reach high proportions capable of going to fixity in small founder populations (e.g. where there is a dominant related group of males, as may well have been the case in our history at certain points).

    As it is, it is highly likely that the rapid increase in human brain power was a multilocus response to a peculiar selective pressure, when being stupid was a positive disadvantage to reproduction. Hence the worry that in Northern Ireland we may be going *backwards*. Maybe it is a *duty* of this blog to keep OT occupied so that he doesn't have too many babies.

    I do think that a lot of people ARE turned off by creationist dogma and distortion; the truth IS out there, and there's no need to try to convert the OTs of this world - they simply aren't worth it. Evolution is really extremely beautiful. When people look up at the night sky, say at the Andromeda galaxy, and realise that what they are seeing DIRECTLY proves that the universe is millions of years old, they often feel the desire to look into the issues further. The bible gets set to one side, and science gets brought in. The honesty of people like Karl Sagan or Richard Feynman is a stark contrast to the nasty sniping carpery of Ham or Morris or their ilk.

  • Comment number 93.

    There has never been an issue about the phenotypical similarity of humans and apes or that the chromosomes are similar (48 in apes and 46 in humans). It appears that fusion occurred on the human chromosome 2 and indeed, it seems to corresponds to ape chromosomes 12 and 13. But to then make the assumption that there is common ancestry is a leap of faith.
    It appears that chromosomal rearrangement is quite common and doesn't lead to speciation. It is probable that fusion of human chromosome 2 occurred between two human chromosomes and has nothing to do with a supposed common ancestor.
    Genetic information on the chromosomes and not chromosome number is the issue. Many human introns are specific for that which makes us human and indeed the number of extrons which code for MiRNA which regulates gene expression are very different between humans and chimpanzees.
    It is not the chromosome differences or similarities which are important but the information found in the DNA code. In humans the DNA blueprint makes us human and in apes, well, it makes them apes.
    (And the creationist comes back again...)
    By the way JW are you saying that the fusion of two bonobo chromosomes and time gives us Einstein? Man, I admire your faith...

  • Comment number 94.

    FP, it is the information on the chromosomes that shows that we ARE apes. Evolution explains this fact. It's endlessly beautiful and fascinating, and thanks to the (atheist) John Sulston, it is in the public domain.

  • Comment number 95.



    Helio

    On and on and on he goes, where he stops nobody knows.

    You are an awful big blether.

    A master of slur and slime.

    But at no time do you EVER attempt to justify your religious or scientific beliefs.

    You are one big argument from authority, and the main authority as far as you are concerned appears to be you.

    ;-)

    You speak of the ancients in science in patronising tones. But all the work you do in genetics is microscopic in comparison to the groundbreaking concepts and foundations of the YECs of the scientific revolution.

    All the work you do is standing on the shoulders of these giants.

    You have no justifcation but your own opinion to palm off the very wellspring of all their scientific inspiration - supernatural creation.

    A popular philsophy trend switched the onus to prove their inspiration was valid. You dont contest this. This trend could reverse in the future.

    Two questions remain;-

    1) Can you prove macroevolution in layman's terms for the readers here?

    2) Can you give a scientific definition of "supernatural" in order to justify the rejection of a creationist hypothesis. Or do you rely on arbitrary religious prejudice to do so?

    Come on big shot, or do you cry uncle?

    ;-)

    OT

  • Comment number 96.


    Hat tip to John Wright for having the guts to try!

    Cheers JW.

    Anyway, Helio, a doctor of medical genetics, doesnt seem too impressed with your evidence. Not at all. Why do you think that is?

    I believe it is because he knows fine rightly that you cant "prove" evolution. It is simply a best effort at explaining the evidence, but is hardly conclusive.

    The attempt to exaggerate its solidity (a recurring flaw with Helio in many areas) gives rise to "The Emperor's New Clothes" scenario where everyone knows the case is being overstated and is not convincing.

    Then you have a "stupid" little boy like me sniggering at Helio's lack of clothes on the high street. Helio, you havnt given any factual reason to wipe the smile off the faces of the crowds yet.

    Otherwise, where is the convincing explanation for the mass vagaries of the phylogenic tree?

    Why the deafening lack of repsonse to my request for proof of macroevolution? Even a Dr of medical genetics (Helio) cowers in fear at the challenge.


    Anyway JW,

    You say;-
    human chromosome #2...shows that a fusion took place between two ancestor chromosomes, leaving the markers found at the end of chromosomes in the middle instead - unique - and proving that these were once two separate chromosomes. Which means we once had 48, sharing ancestry with the great apes, and proving the claims of evolution!

    Perhaps FP raised some valid points.

    My questions;-

    1) How can you be sure that this was a fusion between two chromosomes and that they were not created that way?

    2) How can you be certain that these are "ancestor" chromosomes? Is this not drawing a conclusion before working through the evidence? Isnt this prejudicing the outcome of your investigation?

    3) If this was a fusion event as you suggest (you cant repeat and observe it) then how can you be sure it didnt happen in humans and not apes, who then passed it on to other humans?

    4) How can you be certain that the fusion was actually that of primate genetic material? Isnt this an assumption? Do any primates carry evidence of this same fusion?

    5) Isnt this issue a bit of a red herring? ie how do you explain the massive differences in actual information between primates and humans DNA aside from the exceptionally minor APPARENT similarity you raise? Interim stages are not known to exist which show either the DNA deevelopment or physiological development from primate to man. Therefore to claim the leap from primates to humans was real is speculative at best as there are no real missing links. Surely John, if you are going to claim this as fact this is an argument from silence and therefore an article of religious faith (athiesm)?


    I confess I have very little knowledge of genetics but I think these are reasonable questions.


    However, JW, thanks again for having the guts to enter the arena and fight, like a man!

    ;-)

    The crowd shouts "Helio! Helio! Helio!"

    Will he have the courage to fight, or just shout insults from the sidelines at the reigning champion?


    ;-)

    OT

  • Comment number 97.



    Helio

    For a dr of genetics post 94 seems to be an embarrassingly obvious case of mixing up the terms "evidence" and "interpretation" into a single fruitcake.

    Does any of the information on the chromosomes actual say "We came from apes"?

    Of course not.

    Remember the rule;- explain your justifcation for macroevolution in layman's terms, dont just jump to the conclusion.

    Otherwise we will suspect
    i) You dont really understand what you are talking about
    ii) You are hiding something.

    You could also trying some convincing answers to the questions I posed for John Wright.

    cheers
    OT

  • Comment number 98.


    FP says in #93-

    "But to then make the assumption that there is common ancestry is a leap of faith."

    "By the way JW are you saying that the fusion of two bonobo chromosomes and time gives us Einstein? Man, I admire your faith..."

    On the contrary, the leap of faith is made by the person who considers all of this evidence and to where it points, and instead goes on to claim that the human genome was created that way. This was a prediction of the theory of evolution: if evolution occurred, consistent with all the other evidence here's what we expect to see, and, lo and behold, we did. Creationism, on the other hand, simply tries to explain away these amazing coincidences rather than making any falsifiable predictions of its own.

    Can you suggest a single falsifiable prediction of creationism? A single piece of evidence which, if found, would destroy the hypothesis that creationism explains origins? I can't. This was one of evolution's falsifiable predictions, and it - like all the others - passed with flying colours. (By the way, the reason creationism cannot be falsified is because it's a childish, unscientific game whereby any refutation can be met with 'Ah, God just did it this way, who are we to question?' It cannot be falsified, therefore it is not science.)


    "It appears that chromosomal rearrangement is quite common and doesn't lead to speciation"

    Are you saying that some time in the past 6000 years this fusion event happened? Which was God's design: the unfused or the fused? Is this not a chromosomal change not the very definition of evolution? If a genome can change this much, what's to stop it changing in the way mainstream science postulates? You're reaching, aren't you?!



    OT asks these questions in #96-


    "1) How can you be sure that this was a fusion between two chromosomes and that they were not created that way?"

    In layman's terms (and of course as you know I'm no geneticist), there are markers which occur at the ends of chromosomes called telomeres which protect the chromosome, and there are markers in the middle of chromosomes called centromeres. Thus you can always tell when you're looking at the end of a chromosome - it'll have a telomere - and when you're looking at the middle. Well if you look at human chromosome #2 (this graphic will help), it is literally: START-MIDDLE-END-START-MIDDLE-END in a single chromosome, when it should be START-MIDDLE-END. This is how we know it's a fusion of two chromosomes, rather than a created design.


    "2) How can you be certain that these are "ancestor" chromosomes? Is this not drawing a conclusion before working through the evidence? Isnt this prejudicing the outcome of your investigation?"

    Evolution made a hypothesis, of which certain predictions derive, tests, none of which must fail, and each time the hypothesis withstands the scrutiny. In the case of human chromosome #2, the prediction is that, because apes and humans are hypothesised to have shared an ancestor, there would be two more chromosomes hidden in the genome. This was bourne out by this evidence. So it isn't drawing a conclusion other than that which was predicted. There doesn't appear to be any other hypothesis which would fit the evidence. It certainly isn't design, for the reason that a designer would not choose to make it look exactly as though two chromosomes had fused when they hadn't!


    "3) If this was a fusion event as you suggest (you cant repeat and observe it) then how can you be sure it didnt happen in humans and not apes, who then passed it on to other humans?'

    Well it could have happened anytime and the prediction would still pass. In other words, it doesn't really matter whether the fusion happened in earlier humans or if they happened before we branched off into humans and great apes (although it would make a lot of sense to suggest that these kinds of differences in our genomes explain the differences between us and them); the discovery was that the two 'missing chromosomes' were found, and the evidence fits the theory like a glove. Much, much, much too well to be a coincidence!


    "4) How can you be certain that the fusion was actually that of primate genetic material? Isnt this an assumption? Do any primates carry evidence of this same fusion?"

    No, they have all 48 chromosomes, and we would too without the fusion. All scientists can do is compare the chromosomes, and the bonobo for example has near-identical DNA sequences to humans in chromosome #2, but unfused. The theory fit the facts even before the facts were known, which is very impressive!


    "5) Isnt this issue a bit of a red herring? ie how do you explain the massive differences in actual information between primates and humans DNA aside from the exceptionally minor APPARENT similarity you raise? Interim stages are not known to exist which show either the DNA deevelopment or physiological development from primate to man. Therefore to claim the leap from primates to humans was real is speculative at best as there are no real missing links. Surely John, if you are going to claim this as fact this is an argument from silence and therefore an article of religious faith (athiesm)?"

    I'm not an atheist, actually. But I don't believe in a God who creates chromosomes that appear fused when they're not, and who 'designs' such apparently bad and messy designs when we look this closely at them, and who creates a world in which all the evidence suggests that he didn't actually create it. When we go to a crime scene and try to figure out what happened, forensic science is used to track the criminal. In forensics they find fingerprints and DNA, and match it with human beings, and when John Smith's DNA is found in a hair on the floor, and John Smith's fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and John Smith has no alibi for where he was, and John Smith had a motive.... then we rightly prosecute John Smith for the crime despite the fact that nobody was there to see it and it could all be an amazing coincidence. It's called a preponderance of evidence, and that's what we have for evolution.

    And here's the interesting thing: the only people who question John Smith as the criminal have a vested interest in getting him off the hook (his lawyers, his friends and familiy who which to protect him). The only people who question evolution are people with an ideological interest in doing so: creationists who are protecting their theological traditions. Show me an non-religious person who questions evolution. There aren't any, because the preponderance of evidence points to it.

    John Smith is guilty, and evolution happened. Even the Catholic church, which opposed Galileo so adamantly over something we all now accept to be scientific truth, has come to admit it. It's time everyone else did too.


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 99.

    ot, i'll keep this short. evolution from a common ancestor explains these data. de novo creation does not- unless your creator is a/ an incompetent buffoon, and b/ wanted humans made, not in HIS or HER image, but that of an ape. the data FORCE the evolutionary interpretation. There is no other. You ARE AN APE. here - have a banana.

  • Comment number 100.

    Helio

    Lol! Brilliant.

 

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