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REPLY #29c TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"



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

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
This is the third of a five-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.

QUESTION(S) REMAINING UNANSWERED
  • "The local Radio Shack doesn't yet carry them [time machines]. But, I fail to see why this would be required. Perhaps you could explain?"
  • RE: How old are you? 35? 45?
    As of this writing, I'm 41. How old are you?"
    (Additional comment) I find it interesting that you avoided answering this question. This is because of a previous e-mail discussion I had about four years ago that was very similar to this one. My opponent turned out to be 13 years old and his parting shot was "I don't care if you prove it to me! I *still* won't believe it!".
Can I not examine the evidence contained within the rocks that *were* around at that time?
(R) The question was not whether you could examine evidence, rather, it was whether or not the rocks are really that old.
(MB) Actually, the question was about whether or not I could know that the rocks are that old if I wasn't also that old. By your logic, you cannot possibly believe in Jesus since you weren't around when he lived.

(R) How do you know that there isn't a substantial error in our dating methods?
(MB) Because there are numerous methods for dating samples that can be cross-checked and verified. Also, because the applicable laws of physics are solid and have been experimentally verified.

(R) Or possibly some unknown natural phenomena occurred at some point in earth's history that caused the appearance of artificial dates?
(MB) What "unknown natural phenomena" might account for rock samples being incorrectly dated? What laws of physics need substantial revision because of these phenomena?

QUESTION(S) REMAINING UNANSWERED
  • "On what basis do you believe that the Earth is only 500K years old? That number rings a bell as one of the beliefs of the followers of Zechariah Sitchin. Are you one of them? If not, I'd like to know where that number comes from."
RE: "Can you please explain to me how non-living matter ever became living matter?"
Perhaps this link will provide sufficient information. [Intro to Biology]

(R) I take that as a "no."
(MB) Considering that you can't even explain the difference between "living" and "non-living", I can't see how you can say that the info contained at the provided link doesn't answer your question. You will need to give more detailed objections to its content before I can address your quibbles.

(R) The information at that link did nothing more than expound a particular theorectical persuasion.
(MB) I guess that's about as detailed as I can expect to get. Do you understand what a "theory" is? Nothing gets to be a theory of science until and unless it has sufficient and reliable supporting evidence to have earned general acceptance. If you don't agree with the theory, you can't just brush it off because it *is* a "theory". You must provide detailed objections along with precise evidence that contradicts the theory. Failure to do so is no more significant an objection than howling at the Moon would be.

Experiments have shown that when polymerized amino acids come into contact with water, they form proteinoid microspheres which contain a double-layered, electrically active surface similar to a membrane.
(R) Now I know you don't know what you are talking about. I was referring to RNA/DNA synthesis.
(MB) So was I. The process described is just the first of many steps which leads to the formation of RNA/DNA. Your original objection was that even this first step couldn't possibly happen. The facts say otherwise.

(R) By the way, the membrane that is produced is nothing like a cell membrane.
(MB) Quite correct. However, since a proteinoid microsphere is not a "cell", there is no reason for their respective membranes to be similar.

ANSWER(S) REMAINING UNQUESTIONED
  • "The second part of the above quote was cut out. It was -- This surface protects the compounds within the microsphere from coming into contact with other compounds that would destroy them. Creationist argument focuses solely on the compounds involved and conveniently forgets about the protective surface of the microspheres."
RE: "Can you please show me a demonstration of abiotic matter becomin biotic matter?"
I will do so upon receipt of your definitions and differentiation of "abiotic" and "biotic" matter.

(R) Biotic: Of life or living organisms.
Abiotic: Not of life or living organisms.

(MB) Besides the fact that you haven't yet even clearly defined the difference between "life" and "non-life", these attempted definitions actually define nothing. For example, what characteristic(s) of "life" are being invoked? The terms are very specific and I'm attempting to find out if you even understand them before you can try to argue about them.

In effect, you did when you presented the quote and claimed that it refutes evolution.
(R) No, I presented the quote to show you how the man speaks out of two sides of his mouth! Just like Gould.
(MB) Since I've already demonstrated the numerous misquotations that you've copied, how can you continue to hang onto them? How can you accuse somebody of speaking out of two sides of his mouth when it's abundantly clear that you don't have the faintest idea what he is actually saying? You also claimed to have read his articles in Free Inquiry and that you own a few of his books, yet couldn't explain why you still believe the he disputes evolution.

ANSWER(S) REMAINING UNQUESTIONED
  • "At this point, an out-of-context statement has been created by excising the first few sentences of the paragraph which leads up to it. The missing and unaddressed part said: The cause of the Cambrian explosion is not the same as its effects. You're also quite wrong when you claim that the newly-appearing species have no evolutionary explanation."
Multicellular organisms arose from an aggregation of unicellular organisms.
(R) *giggle* Oh really? How do you know that? Do we have "fossils" of ancient unicellular and multicellular organisms with all of the necessary intermediates??
(MB) Indeed, we do. In fact, we have living examples today. Ever hear of a bacterial colony? That's an example of the first important step in how multicellular organisms got their start.

We speak English, but you have left out an important English word in your misquote. That word is "overlap". What you left out of the context of the quote was the point that Stanley was actually making. That is that species ancestors overlap with their descendants rather than ancestors suddenly and totally becoming a new species.
(R) Right, and isn't this powerful evidence against Punctuated equilibrium since it *does* speculate that decendants of ancestors *do* become new species "suddenly," like in spikes followed by stasis?
(MB) Absolutely not. You still don't seem to understand the difference between long-term gradualism, short-term punctuated equilibrium, and overnight and wholesale conversions of one species to another. Remember that "suddenly" in geologic terms can mean a period of up to several million years. PE certainly produces relative "spikes" of new speciation, but the ancestral species still overlap with the new one(s). Speciation continues during the period of relative stasis over the tens of millions of years that follow. It just takes place at a much slower pace since the ecosystem doesn't provide the room for rapid speciation once all or most of the available slots have been filled.

QUESTION(S) REMAINING UNANSWERED
  • "Now, I think you need to define your understanding of "fundamental change" and why species cannot undergo such changes."
You're asking another Gishism. He says that we should expect to find evidence, for example, of a reptile laying an egg and a bird emerging.
(R) Thats sounds more like a Gishism of Goldschmitz's Hopeful Monster Theory. However, it seems quite evident that PE is nothing more than a rehashed version of the Hopeful Monster theory.
(MB) Somebody already tried this one on me in Reply #5a. Here's what I said in response:
This is lifted directly from Gish's combination of distortions of the punctuated equilibrium theory of Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldridge with his ridiculing of the phrase "hopeful monsters" used in a paper by Richard Goldschmidt to describe the appearance and survival of macromutations. Gish tries to claim that scientists support the notion that, in his words, "that one time a reptile laid an egg and a bird was hatched from the egg!". In reality, nobody claims anything of the sort. Mutations are the engine of change in living things and they are more likely to survive when they occur in isolated populations where competitive pressures are lessened. In such an environment, the mutated creature (or "hopeful monster") has a much better chance of surviving to reproduce and pass along an overall change to future generations in that population.

You claim to have read this [abiogenesis page], but maybe you'd like to have another, more thorough look at it.
(R) I DID read that. The arguments shown are totally unrealistic and unconvincing.
(MB) I think we've heard that old song several times before and it's no better this time around. Once again, we have a blanket dismissal with not even so much as one single specific objection. Why do you think that such dismissals are any sort of conclusive argument? What, specifically and in detail, is wrong with the information contained on that page?

(R) Do you agree with everything you read?
(MB) Absolutely not. After all, I *have* read the Bible, for example.

(R) If not, then why do insist that I haven't read something if I don't agree with it?
(MB) I can produce all sorts of detailed objections to things I've read and with which I disagree. To date, you have failed to produce even one in response to any of the material contained at the links I've provided. I've also shown good reason to believe that you haven't actually read the books from which you've copied your misquotes. I pretty much proved that in the case of the Origin of Species. You offered six different quotes -- all of which are featured verbatim in Creationist materials. I provided conclusive refutations to all of them (including the one that wasn't from Origin of Species at all) and you couldn't provide so much as one single word in support of your original position. In fact, you cut out the whole thread in its entirety from this latest response. I can only assume that you'll try to lump it into the "rantings and ravings" category, but a simple acknowledgement of your errors would have sufficed.

You said that the natural processes of evolution "are the almighty power that can change bacterium into man". Are you now willing to agree that Man is *not* the inevitable end product of evolution?
(R) Inevitable or not, I don't think man is the product of evolution. Period.
(MB) Why not? I know that you believe in the special creation of Man by God, but what evidence is there to support such a notion? How do you account for the mountains of evidence from many different scientific disciplines that demonstrate otherwise?

(R) Theorectically, it is true if we turned the clock back and started over, it is improbable that evolution would have produced man again.
(MB) I agree and there's no reason why it should be any other way. But, your statement leads to another question. Would you believe in evolution if it was ever proven that Man actually *was* created uniquely by God and was not the product of an evolutionary ancestry?

High improbabilities prove nothing by themselves. It can easily be proven that a great many quite normal things are results of the "beating" of very long odds. For example, shuffle a fair deck of cards and deal out a four-player hand of bridge and examine the resulting hands. The odds against that exact deal are so long that, by your logic, it couldn't have happened by chance. Yet, there the cards are!
(R) I am familiar with the cards, dice rolling, Random number generators, and all the other non-arguments of probability.
(MB) How do you define probability as a "non-argument"? It is an undeniable tenet of basic mathematics.

(R) However, if you noticed I used the word "assumption."
(MB) What's to "assume" about probability? The only assumptions derive from improper application or insufficient understanding. You will demonstrate these in the next paragraph...

(R) My point is simple. If I tell you that there is a 70% chance of rain tomorrow; which assumption is better supported by probability? "It will rain?" Or "it will not rain?" The assumption based on the most probability is the stronger, while the assumption based on the most improbability is the weakest.
(MB) While this is correct at the most trivial level, it does not take an important point into consideration. If we have two possible and mutually-exclusive outcomes for an event (call them "A" and "B"), if the probability of "A" is less than 100%, then "B" can also happen and can happen even if there is only one trial. This means that while "A" may be "more likely" and an assumption that it will happen might be "stronger", one cannot argue against the occurrence of "B" solely on that basis. And, if "B" actually happens, it cannot be denied solely because it was the more improbable of the two outcomes.

(R) Therefore, my assumption that "it did not happen by chance/natural process" is stronger and better supported by probability than your assumption that it did.
(MB) This is the standard Creationist line and it suffers from the failings detailed above. In addition, it also suffers from the implicit and invalid assumption that life was a one-shot deal. As a demonstration of this, it is easy to use the same invalid reasoning to demonstrate that you shouldn't have been born since the probabilities are much higher that either no fertilization and implantation would have taken place or that there will millions of other possible combinations of sperm and egg that would not have produced you. Yet, you are here, aren't you?

Why don't you offer some specific points of dispute with the fact that Homo sapiens is an evolutionary accident instead of just brushing aside the entire scenario?
(R) Because I don't think Homo Sapien is an evolutionary anything.
(MB) Once again, I guess that's as specific as I'm likely to hear from you. Of course, this doesn't answer any questions either in support of your views or against the evolutionary picture. What specific arguments support your views?

Considering that no theory in the history of science which has even approached the level of supporting evidence enjoyed by evolution has ever died out or been replaced, on what basis do you predict this fate for evolution? What will replace it if it is overturned? Why do you predict that this will happen shortly?
(R) What you are calling "supporting" evidence can easily be interpreted in non-evolutionary terms.
(MB) Sure, it can. It just can't be done correctly, coherently or sensibly. If you disagree, please present the details of such an interpretation.

(R) I base it on theoretical waffling that has gone on in last 30 years or so, and see these as a foretaste of its ultimate demise.
(MB) What "theoretical waffling" would this be and why is it restricted to the last 30 years or so? Or, are you going to fall back on those old misquotes again?

(R) I don't know what will replace it, but I suspect it may be a theory that allows some metaphysical explanations rather than a blindly natural ones.
(MB) Why should anything metaphysical be given any consideration? I suspect that you will also need to define your meaning of "metaphysical" in the course of your answer.

Oh, by the way, science has never believed that man came from monkeys. Science says that man and monkeys diverged separately from a common ancestor.
(R) This is another example of your hair-splitting.
(MB) What "hair-splitting" is this? Man is Man and monkeys are monkeys. The connection between the two is their common ancestor. What's the problem?

(R) There are some who say that man evolved from apes, and others who say that apes in fact evolved from man!
(MB) And, of course, both are entirely wrong!

(R) But your argument raises the question: "What was the common ancestor they both evolved from?"
(MB) And, if I could provide the definitive answer to that question, I would likely receive a Nobel Prize. There are several candidate species that are under debate, but there is not yet enough evidence to point to one and say without question that it is the one we're looking for. It is also possible that we have not yet found the fossil evidence of the actual ancestral species from which Man and Ape actually began to diverge. But, there is no question that there *is* such a comman ancestor.

QUESTION(S) REMAINING UNANSWERED
  • "Why can't humans be involved in science if science is an objective system?"
  • "I know you won't like this, but it is the alternative posited by Creationists that is devoid of empiricism and mathematics. Why do you think that they are so reluctant to defend their own ideas and concentrate almost entirely on attacking evolution?"
  • "Why would you say that ["Man is a philosophical beast by nature"]? Philosophy is a rather recent innovation of Man."
We are. And, evolution puts two and two together to get four. In other words, it combines available data to reach proper conclusions -- as does any science.
(R) I understand, but the problem is with your term "proper" conclusions. To you, the only "proper" conclusions are evolutionary, which I strongly disagree with. I think there are other conclusions that are not evolutionary which most certainly are proper.
(MB) A "proper" conclusion is one that best fits the evidence. It doesn't matter what we want to be true or what would make us feel better. Theology appeals to emotion while science appeals to reason. Each reaches its own conclusions based upon its particular focus. If we're looking for reality, we would certainly be better advised to stick with reason. That reality won't care a whit for our emotions. Humanity tried the theological approach and the result was the thousand-year period known as the Dark Ages.
    Now, what specific "proper conclusions" do you reach that are not evolutionary in nature and why do you reach them?


If there is no evidence of anything else, why would such a claim be considered to be nothing more than philosophy?
(R) It is just as philosophical to say there is *no* Creator of nature as to say that there is.
(MB) Of course. That's why supporting evidence is the deciding factor. However, since the positive existential claim in support of a Creator bears the burden of proof, its denial is the more reasonable position until such time as evidence is produced to support that claim.

(R) I think evidence does exist of supernatural reality.
(MB) And, what would this be? Details, please!

(R) But because of you naturalistic philosophical bias, you would reject such evidence.
(MB) I reject no evidence nor does any other thinking person. The only thing that might be rejected are invalid conclusions and illogical claims that might be made on the basis of the presented evidence. Why don't you present your evidence and try me out? If you refuse to do so, that's even worse than having no evidence whatsoever as it would indicate that you don't even believe it yourself. If you don't believe it yourself, why should anyone else?

By that logic, you must consider almost every branch of science to be nothing more than philosophy since there are no branches of science which postulate anything other than naturalistic explanations for what we observe.
(R) That is correct but why? The reason is simple. The current scientific paradigm is one of materialism and naturalism.
(MB) It has nothing to do with paradigms and everything to do with reality. If you consider reality to be nothing more than philosophy, I feel sorry for you.


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